NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Agriculture and Markets announced that the 9th annual Invasive Species Awareness Week began on Monday.

According to the organizations, there will be free public events and invasive species challenges offered throughout New York from June 6 until June 12. The events and challenges will be available across the state and online, including daily webinars at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Invasive species are plants, animals, insects, and pathogens that are not native to an area and cause harm to the environment, agriculture, economy, or public health, according to the DEC. New York is particularly vulnerable to these pests due to its role as a center for international trade and travel. State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball stressed the importance of learning about invasive species in a press release.

“Invasive species can have a costly impact on agriculture, the environment, and our economy,” Commissioner Ball said. “During Invasive Species Awareness Week, I encourage all New Yorkers, including farmers and members of our agricultural community, to get involved in watching for and reporting signs of these destructive pests. We can all play a part in keeping invasive species from spreading and protecting our natural resources.”

Scheduled events include statewide webinars on a variety of topics including “Native Alternatives to Common Invasive Garden Plants”, “State of the Science: Harmful Algal Blooms and Invasive Species”, and “Aquatic Invasive Species Info for Lake Lovers.” There will also be guided hikes and paddles to learn how to identify and remove invasive species, and screenings of “Uninvited: The Spread of Invasive Species” taking place.

Anyone interested in participating in any of the events is encouraged to visit the New York Invasive Species Awareness Week Events webpage to find a complete list of events being offered in their area.