Wool in Schools, a project that educates Kiwi school children about the wonders of wool, will see the 25,000th student pass through its wool sheds this month.
The two sheds are converted 20-foot shipping containers that travel the country visiting schools and sharing knowledge about wool – inspiring students to use the sustainable, natural fibre in the future.
Wool in Schools was set up by Campaign for Wool, a global initiative spearheaded by HRH The Prince of Wales to raise awareness about the uses and benefits of wool.
His Royal Highness opened the first woolshed at Tawa Intermediate in 2015 and interest from schools snowballed from there.
The visits are free of charge for the schools – the project is funded by Campaign for Wool with sponsorship from PGG Wrightson Wool.
Campaign for Wool NZ chair Tom O’Sullivan said being able to educate 25,000 New Zealand school students has been a real privilege.
“We’re so pleased with the response to the woolshed project. It’s a fantastic milestone to have reached 25,000 pupils – my own two daughters have been through the woolshed themselves, and still talk about it at home. But we still have a long way to go and would like every school student in New Zealand to have the opportunity to experience the woolshed and learn about wool in this way.”
The experience takes about 30 minutes. Children pass through a series of interactive stations where they learn about wool processes, and the different uses and benefits of wool, in fun and engaging ways.
There is even a mini loom in the container so they can have a go at weaving.
Wool in Schools project manager Vicki Linstrom said there’s one exhibit that seems to really stand out.
“The station that gets the most reaction from the students – and the adults for that matter – is the tennis ball exhibit. Many people don’t realise that wool is used to cover tennis balls and are delighted to learn that New Zealand wool is chosen for the tennis balls at Wimbledon due to its ‘crimp’ factor, which gives the balls the best bounce.
“It’s fantastic to see young minds starting to think more broadly about wool as a truly versatile fibre, with far greater uses and benefits than just making their clothes.”
Each experience usually includes a visit from a local PGG Wrightson team member, to add even greater depth of knowledge and provide inspiration to the students.
PGG Wrightson general manager of wool Grant Edwards said the initiative is “wonderful” and “something we are delighted to be involved with”.
And the children’s wool education doesn’t end in the shed. Campaign for Wool recently partnered with Geraldine farmer and author Christine Taylor, whose children’s book Jock Visits the Neighbours is sent to schools for their libraries.
It follows the adventures of a highland terrier who visits a nearby sheep farm.