The Washington Invasive Species Council (WISC) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are inviting school-age students to participate in an art contest to help spread the word about not spreading invasive species.
Invasive species are plants, animals, and other organisms that don’t naturally live in Washington and, when brought here, can cause economic and environmental harm. Invasive species can outcompete native species for food and habitat and may even eat native species. Once established, they can proliferate and cost millions of dollars to control. They also negatively impact utility, agriculture, and tourism industries.
Entries must focus on a specific species chosen from a provided list of invasive species.
“We need the creativity of young people to help us get the word out about the damage invasive species can do and how it impacts all of us,” said Stephanie Helms, WISC executive coordinator.
The contest is divided into three divisions of students:
- Grade school (kindergarten through fifth grade)
- Middle school (six through eighth grade)
- High school (9th-12th grade)
Three winners will be selected from each division. First place will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and a poster print of the art, while second place will receive a $50 Amazon gift card and third place a $25 Amazon gift card.
In addition, the first-place submission will be displayed at WDFW’s aquatic invasive species check stations in Spokane, Clarkston, Cle Elum and on U.S. Route 395 near the Tri-Cities. It also will hang inside WDFW’s invasive species outreach trailer. Staff travel with the trailer through Washington and the Northwest to fairs, festivals and other events to educate people about the threat of invasive species.
The art contest runs now through May.
Submissions must include pictures or information on a specific invasive species.
A list of species is in the contest rules.
Digital mediums such as photographs, illustrations, cartoons and digital paintings are recommended, but high-resolution digital scans of artwork will be accepted.
“The species on that list–such as quagga and zebra mussels, African clawed frogs, northern pike, and feral swine–are some of the ones we are most concerned will be introduced or spread,” said Justin Bush, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species policy coordinator. “But there are many others. We are happy to have this art contest as another way to bring attention to the importance of stopping these harmful species.”
Preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species requires simple actions such as not releasing unwanted pets into the environment, being aware of which plants are in yards, or ensuring that boat and fishing equipment are cleaned, drained and dry before being moved between waterbodies. WISC and state agencies promote simple actions that anyone can take to become part of the solution and protect Washington’s land and water.