The fashion supply chain is a major contributor to global trade, but it is also environmentally and socially damaging because manufacturing of fibers, textiles, and clothing carries high demands for natural resources – while also outputting air, water, and land pollution. In response, some professionals within the fashion industry are focused on transforming supply chains towards sustainability – including the development of regional fiber systems that nourish people and the planet. Coinciding, there is a growing market opportunity in the North Central region of the US for fiber animal production – including wool sheep; and there are unique opportunities for fiber animal production that are highly sustainable. However, a profitable and environmentally sustainable fiber animal industry that can enhance quality of life for farmers, communities, and society is dependent on various factors, including younger generations of sheep farmers, shearers, and wool handlers. It also requires fashion designers knowledgeable about the qualities of wool textiles and their adaptability to a range of fashion applications, as well as increased consumer demand for wool clothing.
The purpose of the project, “Animal Fiber Production for the Fashion Supply Chain: Developing Sustainable Agriculture Curriculum for High School Young Women,” is to utilize high school girls’ interest in fashion to develop knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices and careers—with the long-term goal of stimulating a North Central regional fiber system.
The project will create a series of modules developed around four topic clusters: the fashion supply chain, sustainable fiber and fashion processes, sustainable sheep husbandry, and engagement with farm professionals. The curriculum will target high school aged young women and will employ active learning strategies, allowing participants to interact directly with sheep and sheep farmers, as well as have hands-on experiences with activities such as spinning, dyeing, and weaving.
Project outcomes include: 1) increased knowledge of economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable agricultural production of animal fibers; 2) enhanced basic fiber-producing animal husbandry skills and fiber/yarn/textile production skills of young women; 3) expanded awareness of agricultural-based career opportunities in the fashion supply chain; and 4) improved consumer perceptions about purchasing and wearing wool clothing.
The approach of this project is unique because it harnesses the interest in fashion of many young women to educate about a sustainable fashion supply chain while utilizing Next Generation Science Standards to build their confidence in pursuing STEM and agricultural related careers.
Project objectives from proposal:
The purpose of this project is to utilize young women’s interest in fashion to develop knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices, and careers — focusing primarily on the sheep and wool industries.
Specifically, the objectives are to develop curriculum modules for high school students that: 1) increase knowledge of economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable agricultural production of animal fiber; 2) enhance basic fiber-producing animal husbandry skills and fiber/yarn/textiles production skills of young women, through experiential learning; 3) expand awareness of agricultural-based career opportunities in the fashion supply chain; and 4) improve consumer perceptions about purchasing and wearing wool clothing.