Winners of Inaugural Mercantil Commercebank Zoolens Photography Project Introduced at Awards Ceremony

Winners of Inaugural Mercantil Commercebank Zoolens Photography Project Introduced at Awards Ceremony

Post Date:6/3/2010


CONTACT:  Israel Kreps
     Cristina Planas
     (305) 663-3543


Pilot program with Miami Metrozoo & the Zoological Society of Florida aimed to instill understanding of the world’s wildlife and appreciation for photographic arts in
Miami-Dade County Public Schools

MIAMI (June 2, 2010) – The Mercantil Commercebank ZoolensSM Photography Project, a photography contest in partnership with Miami Metrozoo and the Zoological Society of Florida, celebrated a successful conclusion to its inaugural program by introducing the winning students’ photos during an awards ceremony at Mercantil Commercebank’s  headquarters in Coral Gables.  The pilot program was designed to engage students from eight Miami-Dade County Public Schools and encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world’s wildlife through photography.

The Zoolens SM Photography Project 2010 winners, selected by a respected panel of judges, were as follows: First Place Winner from West Miami Middle School, David Martinez, who won for his photo entitled “Sleeping Under the Blue Moon,” an up-close shot of a koala; Second Place and Students' Choice Award Winner from Hammocks Middle school, Karen Ramirez, who won for her portrait entitled “Give me Some Sugar,” a photo of two Bengal tigers playing; and Third Place Winner from Miami Lakes Middle School, Giselle Cisne, who won for her photo entitled “Life,” an exotic bird scenery.

“We are extremely proud of the great talent in the photographic arts demonstrated by the literally hundreds of Miami-Dade County Public School students who participated in our pilot program,” said Millar Wilson, president & CEO, Mercantil Commercebank.  “The unique and imaginative photos that were submitted by these young men and women are a testament to their talent, and we congratulate all the finalists and winners.” 

On April 27, more than 300 eighth grade students from ASPIRA – South Youth Leadership Charter School; Doral Academy Preparatory School; Hammocks Middle School; John F. Kennedy Middle School; Madison Middle School; Miami Lakes Middle; Ponce de Leon Middle; and West Miami Middle School participated in the program at Miami Metrozoo and were provided with digital cameras to capture the Zoo’s wildlife. The students had the unique opportunity to learn from experts such as Miami Metrozoo’s Director of Communications and renowned wildlife expert Ron Magill, and New World School of the Arts Visual Arts professor and curator, Rosario Martínez-Cañas, who offered tips on how to best photograph animals.

Renowned photographers participated as judges including, Magill and Martínez-Cañas, as well as internationally acclaimed photo-artist María Martínez-Cañas, The Miami Herald photographer Suzanne Lee Mast, and one of Miami’s best-known photographers Alex Gort, Jr.

First, Second and Third Place winners of the Mercantil Commercebank ZoolensSM Photography Project received a Mercantil Commercebank Savings Account and Student Memberships to the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).  In addition, these students will be recognized on the Zoolens Website (, as well as the Zoological Society of Florida e-Newsletter “Toucan Talk” and the Miami Metrozoo Website.

The First Place and Student’s Choice Award winners received an E-620 Olympus Professional Camera, and the First Place winner also won a Behind the Scenes Tour of the Zoo. Each participating school received a monetary donation for their art department. 
 Additional partners in the pilot program included Olympus Imaging America, Inc. and the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA). 
The long-term goal of the Zoolens Photography Project is to broaden the number of participating schools, allowing an increasing number of Miami-Dade County Public School students to participate in this innovative program.

Mercantil Commercebank N.A. is one of the largest banks in South Florida serving its community for 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 $6.0 billion. The Bank is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida and has 17 Banking Centers - 15 located in South Florida; one in Manhattan, New York; and one in Houston, Texas. 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

Editor’s Note:  There’s another bank in South Florida whose moniker includes the word ‘Mercantile.’   Please note that we are MERCANTIL COMMERCEBANK. Thank you.