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Mercantil Commercebank announces Zoolens Photography Project winners

Pictured at the Dec. 12 awards ceremony for Mercantil Commercebank’s 2013 Zoolens Photography Project are (l-r) Zoological Society of Florida board member and Zoolens judge Grizzel Gonzalez; second place finisher Shea Ramos; New World School of the Arts Visual Arts professor and Zoolens judge Rosario  Martínez-Cañas; grand prize winner Gabriela Lopez; Zoo Miami’s director of communications and Zoolens judge Ron Magill; third place finisher Amanda Esposito, and international photo artist and Zoolens judge María Martínez-Cañas.

Pictured at the Dec. 12 awards ceremony for Mercantil Commercebank’s 2013 Zoolens Photography Project are (l-r) Zoological Society of Florida board member and Zoolens judge Grizzel Gonzalez; second place finisher Shea Ramos; New World School of the Arts Visual Arts professor and Zoolens judge Rosario Martínez-Cañas; grand prize winner Gabriela Lopez; Zoo Miami’s director of communications and Zoolens judge Ron Magill; third place finisher Amanda Esposito, and international photo artist and Zoolens judge María Martínez-Cañas.

Mercantil Commercebank, one of the largest community banks in the U.S., recently announced the winners of its 2013 Zoolens Photography Project during an awards ceremony at the Bank’s Coral Gables headquarters. The event was emceed by Ron Magill, Zoo Miami’s director of communications.

Mercantil Commercebank’s Zoolens Photography Project was developed in partnership with Zoo Miami and the Zoological Society of Florida, and designed to foster awareness of wildlife among Miami-Dade County’s young people. The contest encourages middle school students to creatively photograph their favorite Zoo Miami animal and submit their best photo for a chance to win prizes.

The 2013 project ran throughout October and nearly 300 entries were received. The photos were then reviewed — in the areas of composition, artistic merit, technical ability, and title — by a panel of distinguished judges. The panel included Ron Magill, Pulitzer-Prize winning photojournalist Patrick Farrell, international photo artist María Martínez-Cañas, New World School of the Arts Visual Arts professor and curator Rosario Martínez-Cañas, and Zoological Society of Florida board member Grizzel Gonzalez.

During the Dec. 12 awards ceremony, the 30 finalists’ photographs were displayed and the three grand prizewinners and 10 honorable mentions were revealed.

First Place went to Gabriela Lopez from South Miami K-8 Center for her photo titled “Texture in Nature.” Gabriela received a $2,000 savings account, a professional camera and a student membership to the North American Nature Photography Association. Second Place went to Shea Ramos from Hammocks Middle with his entry titled “Sluuurrrp!” Shea received a $1,500 savings account, a professional camera and a student membership to the North American Nature Photography Association.

Third place went to Amanda Esposito from Herbert Ammons Middle for her photo titled, “Happy Happy Hippo.” Amanda received a $1,000 savings account, a professional camera and a student membership to the North American Nature Photography Association.

Additionally, the honorable mentions received a $100 Visa Gift Card. The winners’ schools also will receive a donation from Mercantil Commercebank.

“It is a pleasure for us to provide our community’s youths with a project that promotes wildlife awareness and offers educational and creative outlets,” said Millar Wilson, Mercantil Commercebank vice chair and CEO. “We are thrilled with the great response we received this year from Miami-Dade County students and teachers and look forward to continuing the Zoolens program for years to come.”

The 2013 Zoolens Photography Project Awards Ceremony was attended by more than 150 individuals, including students and their families and teachers. Also in attendance were several contest judges, Miami-Dade County School Board vice chair Dr. Lawrence Feldman and Zoo Miami director Eric Stephens.

For additional information about the 2013 Zoolens Photography Project, visit <www.zoolens.com> or go online at Facebook.com/Zoolens.

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