Washington high schoolers can win up to $500 from the Department of Fish and Wildlife in a digital art contest featuring invasive species, cosponsored with the Washington Invasive Species Council. 

The purpose of the contest is to raise awareness about plants, animals and other organisms that originate outside the state and disrupt the natural environment causing environmental and economic harm.

Exotic species often outcompete native plants and animals and are costly to control.

Examples of invasive species include the Egyptian grasshopper, recently sighted in Everett; the giant Atlas moth (with a wingspan up to 10 inches), which was seen in Bellevue in July; the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has decimated ash tree populations in 35 states and was sighted near Vancouver in July; and the European green crab, which multiplied over 5,000 percent in Puget Sound last year, prompting Gov. Jay Inslee in January to order that emergency measures be taken to eradicate it.

Winning art entries will be used to decorate a WDFW trailer that will travel the state to raise awareness of non-native species. The trailer will also include pictures WDFW’s invasive mussel-sniffing dogs Puddles and Fin.

“Staff from both WDFW and WISC travel to many communities to educate people about the dangers of spreading these species from one area to another,” Justin Bush, executive coordinator of WISC, said in a statement. “This trailer will allow them to do that more effectively and bring attention to the issue with its eye-catching art.”

The contest is open through Dec. 31. Submissions must be digital art format and can include graphic designs, photographs, illustrations, cartoons, digital paintings or other digital art form.

Each submission must include pictures or information on one or more non-native species that has been or could be introduced to the region.

A list of invasive species can be found on the WISC website.

The first-place winner will receive a $500 Amazon gift card. A second-place winner will receive a $300 Amazon gift card. Other entries will be viewable on the websites of the WISC and WDFW. 

Full contest rules are available on the WDFW and WISC websites.