Mercantil Commercebank, one of the largest banks headquartered in Florida, has announced the 2013 launch of its Zoolens Photography Project.
Developed in partnership with Zoo Miami and the Zoological Society of Florida, the bank’s month-long contest encourages middle school students from both public and private schools in Miami-Dade County to visit Zoo Miami, creatively photograph their favorite animal and enter the photo for a chance to win prizes.
Started in 2010, the Zoolens Photography Project was designed to foster awareness of wildlife among students through the art of photography. The project since has garnered the participation of hundreds of students and in 2012, was opened to all middle school students.
This year, the contest will run from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. Midway through the project, on Oct. 12, the bank will host a free event for students at Zoo Miami, where attendees will enjoy the exclusive experience of collecting photography tips from Zoo Miami’s director of communications and Nikon Ambassador Ron Magill, a noted photographer and wildlife expert.
Students interested in participating in the 2013 Zoolens Photography Project will be asked to submit an original, artistic photograph of a Zoo Miami animal, before Nov. 1, through their schools or by bringing their entry to anyMercantil Commercebank banking center.
Once the contest is over, a panel of distinguished judges will choose three grand prizewinners and 10 honorable mention winners. The winner will receive a $2,000 savings account, second place will receive a $1,500 savings account, and third place, a $1,000 savings account. The top three also will receive a professional camera and student membership to the North American Nature Photography Association and their respective schools will receive a donation from
Mercantil Commercebank. The 10 honorable mentions will receive $100 Visa gift cards. “Mercantil Commercebank is delighted to once again launch our Zoolens Photography Project for Miami-Dade County middle school students,” said Millar Wilson, Mercantil Commercebank vice chair and CEO.
“We are proud of our original program, which engages students, allows them to showcase their creativity, and unites the community through education and art,” he added.
“It truly is inspiring for me to see students develop connections to the animals and be encouraged by wildlife education,” said Magill, who will serve as a contest judge. “The images they submit display both the beauty of wildlife and the extraordinary talent of Miami-Dade’s young photographers.”
In 2012, Albert Parson, a student from South Miami K-8 Center (Expressive Arts Magnet) took home the first place prize. His photograph, “Butting Heads,” was among nearly 300 submissions.
In addition to Magill, the 2013 Zoolens Photography Project’s panel of judges includes Zoological Society of Florida board member Grizzel Gonzalez; Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Patrick Farrell; internationally acclaimed photoartist María Martínez-Cañas, and New World School of the Arts visual arts professor and curator Rosario Martínez-Cañas.
To learn more about the 2013 Zoolens Photography Project and how to enter, visit http:/zoolens.com> or facebook.com/Zoolens. For more information on Mercantil Commercebank, visit www.mercantilcb.com