My undergraduate degree from Penn State University is in Health and Physical Education. I was good at sports but I think the real draw to that major was the experiences I had being a team member and being mentored by great coaches.  Playing on a team, working together, and not letting down your team mates were reflections of how I wanted the world to work in those days. However, all my elective courses were in Animal Science.  I was the high scoring individual on Penn State’ Inter-Collegiate Cattle Judging Team, editor of the Penn State Dairymen publication, Over-all Champion at the Spring Dairy Exposition,…you get the picture. I’ve just always been drown back to production agriculture.

One thing from my sports days that has always stuck with me is the singular mantra for playing almost any sport- “Keep your eye on the ball”. Failure to do so usually results in missing and opportunity to sore yourself, or assist a teammate in scoring, or worse yet, assisting an opponent to score. Whether we’re talking our professional or personal life, we would do well to “Keep our eye on the ball”.

For me, that’s listening to one of our cows bellowing and knowing that her calf might be injured or sick and not nursing, and the cow is uncomfortable. Go check that mama and baby are both OK. Or, one of the big ewes that usually lead the flock to pasture is walking out in the middle of the flock. Catch her and check her feet for hoof problems or take her temperature to see if she has a fever and needs care.  Or, the hens aren’t laying as many eggs as they lay in previous days. Go check that the feeders aren’t jammed or worst yet empty, so they’re not getting their full share of their chicken feed dinner.  You get the picture. Keep your eye on the ball

We can site example of others who aren’t so driven by their own time agendas, that they miss the messages being signaled out around from others. The teacher who sees the child that comes to school every day with no lunch or coat and gloves for outside time.  The neighbor who notes they haven’t seen there elderly neighbor out their house for a couple of days. Parents that no long want to leave the house much, children who no longer want to come home much.  You get the picture. Keep your eye on the ball.

It takes a little time and a willingness to take off our blinkers and really look around us. What’s holding us back from being a good team member in our families and community. Have we taken our eye off the ball and missed our opportunities to build up ourselves while building up others? Yes, it takes a little time and intentional observation but surely, we can spare a few minutes from checking our phones to do this. You get the picture.