Extension News

Grandma’s Kitchen and 4-H Inspire Food Science Student

Jinny Millhollin


AMES, Iowa--Jinny Millhollin of rural Guthrie County, Iowa, grew up making jams and jellies, pickles and pies at Grandma’s house.

Grandma had secret ingredients and techniques that made her “a great cook,” Millhollin said. “I wanted to learn to make her traditional recipes from scratch.” She also loved Grandma’s help when working on her foods projects for 4-H.

With that background, it might seem natural that Millhollin, an Iowa State junior, would major in Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN), but in high school she had other plans. She was headed toward a medical career. That changed when her two older sisters, both Iowa State grads, mentioned having friends who were studying food science.

Intrigued by a field that includes developing food products, trying recipes and taste-testing foods, she set up a job shadow at the Meredith Corporation test kitchen. Here she not only tested new food products, but also helped at a photo shoot for an upcoming cookbook. 

“After the job shadow, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to pursue,” Millhollin said.

Even though attending Iowa State runs in the family, Millhollin credits 4-H with providing the opportunities for her to become acquainted with the Ames campus. She attended a football game annually with tickets provided through the Iowa State University Extension county office and in high school attended the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, a three-day annual event in June that allows youth to experience life in campus residence halls.

“I loved the beautiful campus and when I compared it to others that I had been on around the state, there was no competition,” she said. Another college visit followed, this one to the FSHN department, where she met Anne Oldham, now her advisor. She “was so friendly and excited to see me that I knew Iowa State was where I should spend my next four years.”

The amount of scholarships available also enabled Millhollin to attend ISU. A stellar student who was active in school and community activities, she was named to the President’s Leadership Class and attended a weekly meeting at President Gregory Geoffroy’s house as a freshman.

Although quiet and unassuming, she is an enthusiastic, community-minded organizer and quickly became involved in campus life, accepting several leadership roles. She served on Freshman Council and became a co-chair for the group’s recruitment committee in 2005. She also served on Iowa State’s Dance Marathon recruitment committee for two years.

Her greatest time commitment, however, has been as a three-year member of the Student Alumni Leadership Council Homecoming Central Committee, a group she will co-chair in 2007-08. She also found time to join the Food Science Club, serving as secretary and this year as vice-president. Participating in clubs has “shaped my professional development, and a career-related club helps me focus this development on my field of study,” she said.

Millhollin plans to intern in summer 2007 in a test kitchen setting that emphasizes recipe testing or recipe development. Summer 2006 she interned in a plant setting that allowed her to collaborate with the research chef to improve existing products and develop new product lines. A long-term goal is to attend culinary school.

FSHN majors choose one of three options—industry, technology and consumer. Millhollin’s consumer option allows her to focus more on product development. She also plans to keep alive those traditional foods and preparation techniques she learned in Grandma’s kitchen.


Contacts :
Carol Ouverson, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-9640, couverso@iastate.edu