Cam High sophomores reap benefits of annual agricultural contest


Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef

Lupita Ware helps cut flowers to sell to the Cam High staff during fourth period. Cam High is one of four high schools in the county, the others being Fillmore High School, Santa Paula Union High School, and Ventura High School, to offer an agriculture program.

Sophomores Nick Swanson and Nick Ayala Salazar took home first and second place respectively in an FFA (Future Farmers of America) Loan Contest on May 6.

The contest, sponsored by the Ventura Branch of Farm Credit West, was in an essay format, requiring students to play the role of a loan officer with Farm Credit West. The prompt asked contestants to review the loan request of imaginary business partners Bill and Joe Davis, who were asking the bank for $975,000 to fund their avocado and lemon ranch, and decide if it would be beneficial to carry out the ranch’s construction or not.

“There were a lot of things to take into account: the amount made, the amount lost, the amount of money before and after constructions,” said Salazar.

Salazar favored the funding of the avocado and lemon ranch. “I approved of the ratios. The ratios are everything when seeing the profit and debt, and you have to decide if the loss was really worth it. If the profit is greater than the loss, then it’s worth it to invest,” he said.

Swanson also sided with the farmers. “Everything met the minimal standards to invest. It’s all based on the numbers,” said Swanson. “Ratios were the hardest thing to overcome. I had to get some help from my dad.”

This was not Swanson’s first time participating in the Loan Contest. He also entered last year and received second place to a girl from Fillmore High School. “The prompt was similar to last year’s,” he said. “They usually have the same question, just with different numbers and people.”

After drafting their essay, Swanson and Salazar presented their case to three loan officers. “We only had to wear our FFA jacket from our uniform and a collared shirt,” said Salazar. “It was very nerve-racking to present my case in front of the judges, but I made good eye contact and spoke with confidence, which probably improved my score.”

Only four people participated in this year’s contest compared to last year’s six participants. Swanson was awarded $100 for winning first place, but both boys agreed money should not be contest’s sole incentive. “We want people that enjoy agriculture and plan to move on to a career with that subject to enter, not just for the prize,” said Swanson.