Washington student takes on invasive species- with art

Last spring, WDFW teamed up with the Washington Invasive Species Council to host an art contest where high school students were asked to submit original digital designs depicting information on invasive species, how they spread, and the Department’s invasive mussel-sniffing dogs, Fin and Puddles.

In the contest, young Washington artists competed to design a graphics wrap for the new WDFW invasive species education trailer, as seen in the photos.

There were many extremely impressive designs submitted and the panel of Washington State legislators who were the contest judges had a tough job. When the scoring “wrapped up” (pun intended), Kirkland student, artist, and conservationist Austin Picinich was declared the winner, and when you look at his submission, there’s no doubt that Austin understood the assignment. It is amazing artwork for a teenager!

State legislators were tapped to judge the submitted artwork.

“He fit so much into the design and included so many little details that it really stood out,” said WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species Enforcement Captain Eric Anderson. “And it looks even better on the trailer than it did on paper!”

Austin in front of one of his murals. Photo courtesy https://www.austinsart.net/.

The trailer, now adorned with Austin’s design, is used as a traveling educational exhibit that WDFW staff takes to community events around the northwest. Inside are exhibits such as a propeller covered in invasive mussels, a stuffed invasive northern pike, and preserved European Green Crabs that were recently captured in Puget Sound. Species like this can disrupt our ecosystems by crowding out native species and cost billions of dollars to control.

Exhibits inside the invasive species trailer

As for the winning artist, Austin is no stranger to conservation work, having worked as a professional artist since the age of 7. He is also the founder of the nationally-recognized and awarded Save Our Salmon (SOS) Mural Initiative that creates public art projects and murals in the Greater Seattle area.

One of Austin’s murals in Lake Forest Park. Photo courtesy of Jeff Jensen and https://www.austinsart.net/.

According to Austin’s website, each mural is designed to engage, educate, and empower communities to restore salmon spawning streams. Austin has also raised over $23,000 dollars by selling his designs to fund salmon awareness and stream restoration projects benefiting the University of Washington’s Salmon Watchers program.

Austin isn’t stopping at winning art contests. He recently won a four-year, full-ride scholarship to the University of Washington (UW) and was named a Presidential Scholar. Out of 62,000 applications, he was chosen as one of just 14 incoming UW freshman to receive the honor. He plans to major in marketing and minor in visual design and leadership. And hopefully continue to make art that benefits the fish, habitats, and ecosystems of our state.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.