Jan. 10 2023 08:00 AM

This new year is the time to make the most of what we have and give our best shot.

Sometimes, you have time for a real belt with your show whites. Other times, baler twine does the trick.
Even though it is now my favorite sport, I did not play tennis growing up. In fact, the first time I started playing was after having my first child. I quickly realized that I did not have time to both practice and compete. So, I took a few lessons to learn how to at least hit the ball and started playing matches. I never learned the “correct” way to shift on the court in doubles and still always have my hands “wrong” when volleying a backhand at the net. Nevertheless, it works.

In sports, they often say that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. While I typically play singles, if I am playing doubles, I will warn my partner of my unorthodox ways. I say, “Listen, I am a very scrappy player. It may not always look pretty, but I promise you that I will get to everything.” And I do.

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I realized that is similar to how I approach most things in life. I may not know how to do something new or have the resources to do it perfectly, but I am willing to try. So many times, peers have questioned how I found opportunities, and no matter the situation, my answer is always the same: “I asked.” Be scrappy; be determined enough to give it a shot.

This attitude was clear even in my younger years. I have photos of me in show whites with my Holstein and a showmanship trophy posing in front of the State Fair banner one year. I had forgotten my belt, so at the last minute I grabbed some twine off a hay bale and tied it around my waist. It may not have been the best look, but it kept my pants up and allowed me to focus on exhibiting my cow to the very best of my abilities. I made it work, and it paid off.

I love the New Year energy. As I focus on personal and career growth, I am reminded that being scrappy has been extremely valuable for me. I have never fit a mold or followed a linear path. Yes, sometimes my scrappiness can be mistaken for hardheadedness. But I am now recognizing it as an asset, not a fault. Here’s to embracing the scrappy in 2023!

Erin Massey

Erin Massey is the product development manager at Prairie Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Edwardsville, Illinois. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the development process, from concept to commercialization. Erin grew up on a Florida dairy farm and has a deep-rooted passion to invigorate the dairy industry. Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. Her personal mantra is "Be Bold."