George Washington Carver

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George Washington Carver

Courtesy of Library of Congress. Photograph by Arthur Rothstein

Chemist – Botanist – Artist – Humanitarian – Christian – Environmentalist

“It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.”

Did you know that George Washington Carver:

  • was sickly when he was young and couldn’t do much manual labor and he spent  time in the garden.
  • was called the “plant doctor” because he was able to make sick plants healthy again…even at the age of 10.
  • was also an artist who loved to paint (used berry juice, sticks and rocks).
  • was a curious child and loved learning.

At 12 George Washington Carver begin moving from town to town looking for schools so he could continue to learn. The only school in his town did not allow Blacks to attend. Once he felt he learned all he could from one place he would pack up and go to the next.

“This simply sharpened my appetite for more knowledge.”

Did you know that George Washington Carver

  • got accepted to Highland College in Kansas, but was told he couldn’t attend because he was Black.
  • got accepted into Simpson College in Iowa (the second Black in the history of the College) where he studied painting.
  • transferred to Iowa State in 1891  in order to study chemistry, geology, botany and zoology.
  • was the first black person to graduate from Iowa State and became the first Black faculty member at Iowa State.

Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute, offered George Washington Carver a position at Tuskegee Institute in 1896 (the offer was for less pay, not much equipment, no modern buildings) and he accepted anyway.

[bctt tweet=”“It has always been the one great ideal of my life to be of the greatest good to the greatest number of ‘my people’ possible.” ” username=”brownschooling”]

Did you know that George Washington Carver:

  • taught all of his classes using hands-on learning in nature. He would collect plants, soils, and insects on his way to work and use them to teach in the classroom. He created a 10-acre experiential farming site for his students.
  • was offered a six-figure salary to work with Thomas Edison. GWC turned him down because he knew his students and the community needed him.
  • was the father of crop rotation. He knew that the cotton was depleting the soil from key nutrients and he suggested during the off-season planting sweet potatoes to replenish the soil.
  • created the Jesup Agricultural Wagon, a moveable classroom and lab (loaded with seeds, soil, study pamphlets, etc.,) to help the farmers in the nearby towns. The wagon was named for Morris K. Jesup, who funded the construction,  mules,  and instructional materials.

    Courtesy of Tuskegee University
    Encyclopedia of Alabama

“The primary idea in all my work was to help the farmer and fill the poor man’s empty dinner pail.” 

Did you know that George Washington Carver:

  • discovered over 500 uses for the peanut, which at the time was used only for animal food. In 1916 he wrote the booklet “How to Grow the Peanut, and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption.”- Peanut butter was #51!
  • only got 3 patents even though he created hundreds of inventions. He felt that the earth, and all of its plants, didn’t belong to one person but that God created the plants for everyone.

“One reason I never patent my products is that if I did, it would take so much time I would get nothing else done. But mainly I don’t want any discoveries to benefit specific favored persons. I think they should be available to all peoples.”

George Washington Carver donated his life savings ($60,000) to the GWC Foundation for students to continue his work at Tuskegee.


Activities to do with your family

Native Plants and Animals Spotting: George Washington Carter spent hours exploring nature. Do some research with your children and discover some of the plants, insects and animals that are native to your area. Take the list with you on a nature walk with your family. Try to find and later identify some of the items that you find. Take pictures of what you find and make a scrapbook page with your family when you return home. Here are some things that we spotted on Florida Native nature walk.

Senses Walk: Outdoors is a great way to teach your children mindfulness. Talk to your children about what mindfulness is and how you can use your senses as a tool to practice it. Take a Senses Walk with your family and see what you can discover when you are present and mindful in the space around you.

Walk without talking, anywhere between one and five minutes—the time varies based on the age of your child(ren).

As you are silent you will observe everything that you See, Hear, Smell, Touch, and Taste (the last one may not be applicable).

When you return from your Senses Walk, each family member will complete a Senses chart and compare/contrast your answers (with younger children you can do this activity orally)

You can take this activity anywhere you go: to the beach, in a big city, on a farm, etc. It’s just a great way to help children to practice mindfulness.

Cooking with the kids: Carver found many ways to use peanuts, from medicinal to pure enjoyment. Try making no-bake peanut butter protein bites for a quick healthy packed snack. If you or your children have peanut allergies, you can make the same recipe using seed butter (like sunflower seed butter).

  • 1/2 cup  of Peanut Butter (Grind your own peanuts  or purchase natural peanut butter in a jar)
  • 1 Cup of rolled oats
  • 1/3 or 1/4 cup Sweetener (depending on how sweet you like it) We made ours vegan by substituting with maple syrup or you could use agave nectar or honey.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add your favorites: cranberries, chocolate chip, coconut flakes, etc.

Directions: Combine oats,  peanut butter, sweetener, and vanilla extract together in a bowl; fold in your added favorites; form into balls. Arrange  bites on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for about an hour to set. Enjoy!

Planting a Garden: Try planting a small garden with your family. If you don’t have the space,  create a potted garden or windowsill herb garden or co-op gardening with other families.

I think the most important thing is to enjoy nature and even better…enjoy it with your family and friends!

How do you and your family spend time outdoors together?


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