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Summer Rayne Oakes

Summer Rayne Oakes is an American-born model, activist, and television host known for her social entrepreneur work in ecofashion and related sustainability ventures. Because of her close ties to the environment, she is often referred to as "The Eco-model.

Early life

Growing up among Pennsylvania farmlands outside Scranton, Oakes was a self-taught naturalist. She attended Lakeland Jr./Sr. High School. In her community, Oakes was the youngest board member of the Environmental Advisory Council.

Oakes graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources and Entomology. She began modeling while attending Cornell University. She was approached by a Philadelphia-based modeling agency, but signed with Boss Models upon graduation. Her first project brought attention to sustainable fashion and rainforest conservation with photographer John F. Cooper and stylist Peter Brown's Organic Portraits series.

Oakes is a Udall Scholar and National Wildlife Federation Fellow. Upon winning the Udall Environmental Scholarship, Summer Rayne said she was looking to become an ecosystem manager and work to improve conservation programs "by successfully integrating human dimension aspects, scientific research and the intrinsic value of nature into comprehensive management plans."

At Cornell Oakes was Vice President of the Educate for the Earth Club and a frequent artistic contributor to Ursus, the student environmental publication. Her work experience includes serving as a research assistant in the Cornell Waste Management Institute where she co-authored publications including "Investigation of Alleged Sludge Health Incidents Associated with Land Application of Sewage Sludges, "Sewage Biosolids Land Application: Reported Health Incidents," and "Organic Chemicals in Sewage Sludge" . She also worked in the Aquatics Laboratory of the Department of Entomology on stream water quality studies, and studied rainforest regeneration in the Central Highlands of the Dominican Republic. Oakes also was an environmental lobbyist for the Long Island Neighborhood Network against pesticide application.

Career

Her work today as a model is exclusively tied to socio-environmental issues, sustainability, equitable trade and education.

Her fusion of values-based modeling, business, and activism has garnered much international interest. Her first full-paged interview came in 2004 for Lucire:

"Summer Rayne Oakes may be the archetype of the twenty-first century supermodel. While the "s" word has not been applied by the media yet, she has all the ingredients that make one in the modern context: an active involvement in environmental causes, an intelligence quotient that hovers in the 180 mark, and a sexy, smouldering look. However, what makes Oakes tick? This is a Cornell graduate with degrees in entomology and natural resources, the winner of numerous academic awards - certainly not the twentieth century's idea of the model. If she has a fault, it may be that she is ahead of her time, and the world is catching up."

Since then, Oakes' work has been featured on CNN, NPR, Fox News, HGTV, Sirius Satellite Radio, NY1, MTV News, Discovery Channel News, Video Fashion News, the Fashion & Beauty Channel, and LinkTV. Recent interviews and articles have appeared in French Vogue, Shape magazine, Elle magazine, Allure magazine,GQ magazine, YRB, Experience Life, Artist Interviews, Entertainment World, GQ, Healthy Living, E, The Fader, Yogi Times, Outside Magazine, The Lazy Environmentalist, Sustainable Industries Journal, Neue Zürcher Zeitung , and Grist Magazine. She has modeled for Levi Strauss & Co., Nicole Miller, Replay Jeans, Zimmerli Lingerie, and others.

On September 5, 2005, Oakes launched "Behind the Label", a monthly sustainable style editorial produced for Lucire, which became the first international editorial completely devoted to ethical and eco-conscious fashion designers. On October 23, 2006, Oakes took over as acting editor for the magazine. In September 2006, she also launched the S4 Newsletter, reporting on sustainability trends in fashion. She writes the "Ask Summer Rayne" column for PlanetGreen.com , writes personal musings for Treehugger.com, and Huffington Post.

Oakes educational curriculum entitled ECOFASHION 101 links pop culture, fashion, and mainstream media into traditional subject topics and was launched in Philadelphia schools in September 2005.

Oakes was represented by Boss Model Management in New York City from September 2004 to July 2005. That same month, she founded SRO, a consulting and production firm focused on sustainable business. In 2007, Oakes was named a Lifestyle Ambassador of the Sustainable Style Foundation.

In early 2008, Oakes was named spokesperson, resident expert, host, and board adviser for Discovery Channel's Planet Green Channel, a 24-7 hour network devoted to the environment launching in the United States in June 2008. She also previously co-hosted Eco 4 the World with Andrew Patterson created by Big Durian Productions in Singapore.

In December 2008, she is launching her first book entitled, "Style, Naturally: The Global Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty" published by Chronicle Books.

Summer Rayne Oakes is under private management with SJR Brand Management and NEXT Models exclusively focusing on her environmentally- and socially-relevant modeling.

Awards

Oakes has received media accolades including Vanity Fair naming her a Global Citizen (May 2007), Outside naming her one of the Top Environmental Activists (May 2007), Cosmopolitan naming her Fun, Fearless Female of 2007, CNN Nicole Lapin nominating her as a "Young Person Who Rocks",, Amica Magazine naming her as one of the "Top 20 Trendsetters under 40" (Die Top 20 Trendsetters unter 40 jahren) (Jan 2008), and Earth First anointing her as the #1 Hottest Girl in Green (2008), .

Environmental work

Oakes is actively involved in the youth climate change movement through Energy Action; Green-collar jobs; sustainable development in Africa; ecosystem conservation; and fair trade.

In December 2005, Oakes attended the Fair Trade Expo at the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong to represent the international fair trade movement.

In October 2007, Oakes was part of a donor-funder trip to Great Bear National Rainforest, the last contiguous coastal temperate rainforest in the world and home of the Kermode bear. In November 2007, she helped organize and lobby for the first time on Capitol Hill with the youth-run group, Energy Action on the case of global warming. She was one of 6,000 young people who participated in the largest lobby day and summit on climate change.

That same month, Oakes left to Africa for a shoe drop with TOMS Shoes in South Africa and an annual sustainable development trip to Mozambique.

In June 2008, she wrote an op-ed for her local Pennsylvania paper on green-collar jobs to urge the community and the government to take political action.

She is also a United Nations US Partnership Youth Emissary, a program founded in conjunction with the United Nations Decade for the Education of Sustainable Development and the Millennium Development Goals.

Personal life

Oakes currently resides in New York City. She has never been married. She is reportedly single, but has been linked to dating fellow environmentalists in the past.

Quotes

  • The glamorous appeal that surrounds modelling really helps target a wider and more varied audience for the causes that I am associated with. Environmentalism and humanitarian issues are hot button topics all the time, but usually within certain cliques. My image is the primary draw for most viewers, but I've received countless mail from individuals who inadvertently learn about my work and can relate to it, are interested in it, or are inspired by it. It's really energizing to hear what they have to say. You don't always get that appeal and response from general audiences to traditional activism. I think it's a viable way to engage fringe groups..
    • Lucire, April 2005
  • Don't get me wrong, I care. I care a whole deal, which is why I was there. But for my generation, we realize that there is a glut of 'F*** you' finger-pointing that is clogging the political pipelines, and we are in desperate need of an enema.
    • Made in Hong Kong article on fair trade, Lucire magazine, February 2006
  • I've always cared for the environment, but I've never wanted to be limited to studying or caring for just one aspect of it. I want to use all my assets toward making a difference.
    • Experience Life Magazine, April 2006
  • Take me out to [a bog mat] and I would be shoving my nose in moss or looking at insects. I get really excited about that kind of stuff!
    • Grist Magazine, September 2006
  • I think the press first started using that phrase [to describe me]. It doesn't really describe the depth of my work, but it does roll off the tongue quite nicely, doesn't it? I guess if I were a comic book character, I'd be somewhere between Captain Planet and Wonder Woman, and that isn't half bad.
    • Capricho Magazine, November 2006 [after asking who started calling her "The Eco-model"]
  • Though this issue is not something I speak out about directly, I do hope that young women can take away a healthy lifestyle from my own work. If you do not take care of yourself and do not learn to embrace your body in a healthy manner, then you will not be able to live happily or create the change that you wish to impart on the earth. Beauty is not strictly about physical features. It is about inner confidence, peace with oneself, and a good heart. Don't compromise your health. It's not worth it.
    • SRO News Blog, November 2006 [on discussing the pressure to be thin in the modeling industry]
  • Just from my background, I've really honed in on a lot of broad skill sets...I was also asking in my own life, how can I get my environmental and social issues that I feel most passionate about out to a mainstream audience? How can I get this brand or this product or this company out into the mainstream? There are so many companies that are doing good and do have a good message, and not getting the limelight they deserve...
    • Sustainable Industries Journal, December 2006
  • I didn't see what I wasn't able to do, but more of what I was capable of.
    • Ibrido TV, December 2006
  • I would define optimism as the belief in hope...Just imagine all the experiences you have left to experience; all the people you have left to touch or be touched by; and all the dreams you have left to do.
    • Ibrido TV, December 2006
  • When you do your own thing, it forces you to innovate. I started my own business because I couldn't find a company or organization that shared the same vision I had for the future. I felt the need to develop a broad-skilled approach, so I have a tendency to do all sorts of things - consulting, modeling, writing. Most everything I do, however, is centered on sustainability. My passion is for people and the environment. I look at what I do very much as a business as well as an educational awareness campaign. I don't consider it a job or a hobby. I consider it a responsibility, a way of life.
    • Speech on entrepreneurship to Gettysburg students, January 9, 2007
  • We're like dogs. We can smell fear and have no patience for bullshit.
    • Outside magazine, January 2008, on what she said to a friend after a weak speech given by Nancy Pelosi at the Power Shift climate change summit

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