CORAL GABLES, Fla., Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercantil Commercebank, one of the largest banks headquartered in Florida, today announced the 2013 launch of its ZoolensSM Photography Project. Developed in partnership with Zoo Miami and the Zoological Society of Florida, the Bank's month-long contest encourages middle school students of 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 ZoolensSM Photography Project was designed to foster awareness of wildlife among students through the art of photography. The project has since garnered the participation of hundreds of students and in 2012, was opened up 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 ZoolensSM 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 any Mercantil Commercebank banking center. Once the contest is over, a panel of distinguished judges will choose three grand prize winners and 10 honorable mention winners. The first place 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 winners will also 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 a $100 Visa Gift Card.
"Mercantil Commercebank is delighted to once again launch our ZoolensSM Photography Project for Miami-Dade County middle school students," said Mercantil Commercebank Vice-Chairman and CEO Millar Wilson. "We are proud of our original program, which engages students, allows them to showcase their creativity, and unites the community through education and art."
"It truly is inspiring for me to see students develop connections to the animals and be encouraged by wildlife education," said Zoo Miami's Director of Communications and Nikon® Ambassador Ron Magill, who serves 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.
The 2013 ZoolensSM Photography Project's panel of judges includes Zoological Society of Florida board member Grizzel Gonzalez; Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Patrick Farrell; internationally acclaimed photo-artist Maria Martinez-Canas; New World School of the Arts visual arts professor and curator Rosario Martínez-Canas; and Nikon® Ambassador, wildlife expert and Zoo Miami's Director of Communications, Ron Magill.
ABOUT MERCANTIL COMMERCEBANK: Mercantil Commercebank N.A. is one of the largest banks in South Florida serving its community for over 30 years. Mercantil Servicios Financieros (MSF), a Venezuelan company, beneficially owns the Bank through U.S. bank holding companies. MSF is the largest provider of financial services in Venezuela with more than 85 years of experience. Mercantil Commercebank has assets of $7.0 billion. The Bank is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida and has 19 Banking Centers - 15 located in South Florida; three in Houston, Texas; and one in Manhattan, New York. The Bank offers a wide variety of domestic, international, personal and commercial banking services, including investment, trust, and estate planning through its subsidiaries, Mercantil Commercebank Investment Services, Inc. and Mercantil Commercebank Trust Company, N.A. For more information, please visit www.mercantilcb.com.
ABOUT THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF FLORIDA AND ZOO MIAMI
The Zoological Society of Florida is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that supports Zoo Miami through education, conservation and outreach programs; marketing and public relations; volunteer services and financial support for the construction of new exhibits. Visit www.zsf.org for additional information. Zoo Miami is located at 12400 SW 152 street; Miami, FL 33177. General Zoo Admission is: $15.95 per Adult and $11.95 per Child (3-12), plus tax. Children under two, Zoo members and parking are free. Zoo Miami's hours are 9:30 am – 5:30 pm; ticket booths close at 4 pm. For more information please visit www.zoomiami.org.
SOURCE Mercantil Commercebank