SDSU spins wool into student scholarships

Jordan Smith Managing Editor


 Through the designs of SDSU apparel merchandising students, Jackrabbit fans can add scholarships to the list of things that their apparel purchases help support. 

Through the collaboration of the College of Agricultural and Biological Sciences, the SDSU Animal Science department and the College of Education and Human Sciences, a program called “SDSU Signature Wool” began. 

Products that are being sold for the program are an SDSU queen-sized blanket, stadium throw and scarf. 

“I came up with the idea because I wanted to copy what SDSU had done with ice cream. It helps tie consumers to food production,” Dean of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Barry Dunn said. “I wanted to link consumers to agriculture just like with the ice cream and use SDSU as linkage.” 

In order for the SDSU Signature Wool project to take off, SDSU has received gifts to cover the cost of the wool. The hope is to generate money from sales for scholarships, which will go to animal science and apparel merchandising students. 

The project got traction about a year ago, according to Dunn. The Dean of Education and Human Sciences Jill Thorngren and Education and Human Sciences Department Head Jane Hegland teamed up with Dunn, along with Animal Science Professor Jeff Held to work on the project. 

Jeff Held pulled together contacts in the sheep industry: Patty DeZeeuw and Mary Held who work with sheep 


 and wool. They both live in South Dakota and were interested in getting South Dakota Sheep Growers to be part of the project. 

Held also helped the project get in touch with a wool buyer in Newell. From there, they went and found the “finest wool” in South Dakota, according to Dunn, and purchased it. 

The wool had to be shipped to San Angelo, Texas to have it processed. The reason for this is the wool went through a new process that allows wool to be washable, therefore making it more practical for the consumers.

According to Consumer Sciences Professor Nancy Lyons, the products are being made at Faribault Woolen Mill in Faribault, Minn.

“We are really proud of our students and proud of the product. We hope that people support us,”Dunn said.

Lyons teaches an apparel design class that is only offered every other year, so she was approached about having her spring 2013 aesthetics class design ideas for the project. 

Some students had more fashion-oriented designs, according to Lyons, that would require too much wool or wool of a different kind, so the Faribault Woolen Mill chose three designs that were simple. 

“The project sort of just fell in to my lap,” Lyons said. The design of the stadium throw was created by Lyons.

“It is a fun project,” Lyons said. “All money goes back to scholarships and I hope they get a lot of sales.”

Senior apparel merchandising major Sydnie Bertrand said one of her apparel merchandising classes was presented with the challenge to come up with sketches for the stadium throw, queen-sized blanket and scarf. The project is using one design for the queen-sized blanket, one for the scarf and one for the stadium throw.

The only requirement was that students had to include SDSU colors and symbol somewhere. 

“I got creative from there. The color scheme I used was almost pastel because I wanted to gear it toward male or female,” Bertrand said. “The design is straight and simple and different because I used pastels rather than the traditional royal blue and yellow.”

According to Bertrand, Lyons collected the sketches and sent them in. Over the summer students found out if their design had been chosen.

“In the summer I got an email from Nancy informing me that they picked my design. It is pretty exciting,” said junior apparel merchandising major Kate Doom.

Doom created one design for each of the three choices and her design for the queen-sized blanket was picked.

“The first time I saw the blanket it was really exciting,” Doom said. “It was a really exciting process and cool to see something that I designed come to life.”

According to Lyons, the first batch consists of 500 to 600 scarves, 300 to 400 stadium blankets and 150 to 200 queen-sized blankets.

The SDSU Signature Wool products can be found in the University Bookstore or on their website and at the South Dakota Art Museum and South Dakota Ag Heritage Museum on campus.

“Overall it was neat to collaborate with other parts of SDSU on a single project, not just working within one department,” Bertrand said.

The goal for the future of this project, according to Dunn, is to see how this year works and repeat the project every year with new designs to get more students involved.

“It is wonderful to have another source for scholarships,” Lyons said.