Amerant Bank, one of the largest banks headquartered in Florida (formerly known as Mercantil Bank) hias announced its annual 2019 Zoolens Photography Project, a photography contest established in 2010 to bolster a love of wildlife among Miami-Dade County middle school students.
Developed in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Zoo Miami and the Zoological Society of Florida, Zoolens was created by Amerant Bank with the purpose of continuing its long-term commitment to support the photographic arts within middle school students in South Florida.
The monthlong contest which began on Feb. 1 and continues until Mar. 1, invites students from both public and private Miami-Dade County middle schools to visit Zoo Miami to snap a creative photo of their favorite animal for a chance to win a range of prizes and up to $2,000 in cash.
“Zoolens has become one of the most anticipated photography programs in South Florida, and we are proud to have such an enriching contest for students to partake in,” said Millar Wilson, vice chair and CEO of Amerant Bank.
“We are grateful to Zoo Miami and all the Zoolens sponsors, participating schools, teachers and parents, who have helped grow Zoolens into a successful program that has a lasting positive impact on students,” he added.
“I am pleased to once again be part of such an enriching program, one that not only helps increase awareness of wildlife, but provides very generous financial rewards to students whose photos are selected as winner,” said Ron Magill, Nikon ambassador and Zoo Miami’s director of communications. “I look forward to engaging with this year’s student participants, and am eager to see their submissions and the creative photos they will capture.”
While in the past the bank has only accepted photo submissions taken with traditional cameras, this year submissions taken with smartphones also will be accepted. The bank still encourages students to use traditional cameras to take high quality pictures, but in an effort to get additional student participation wanted to provide students with the option to use their smartphones for the contest.
This year’s Zoolens officially kicked off on Saturday, Feb. 2, with a special event at Zoo Miami, where students had the opportunity to enjoy interactive animal experiences while learning photography tips from famed wildlife photographer Ron Magill, Nikon Ambassador and Zoo Miami’s director of communications.
Students can visit Zoo Miami and take a creative photo of their favorite animal that expresses their creativity and sense of spirit. Submissions of an original photograph of a Zoo Miami animal must be sent before 5 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 1, and can be made through a student’s school or by send email to firstname.lastname@example.org in high-res 300 dpi jpeg.
Three grand prize winners and 10 honorable mentions will be selected by a panel of distinguished judges, which will be announced at an awards ceremony at the end of March. 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 finishers also will receive a professional camera and student membership to the North American Nature Photography Association. Additionally, their respective schools will receive a donation courtesy of Amerant Bank and the 10 honorable mentions will receive a $100 Visa Gift Card.
The Bank will conduct a “Zoolens Fans’ Choice” social media contest via the Zoolens Facebook page, where a photo album of the top 30 finalists’ submissions will be posted to the page in mid-March and open to all page followers for voting.