February is Black History Month. This month is used to recognize Black men and women who contributed to the advance of human civilization. Carter G. Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History”. He wanted to celebrate Black life and history. In honor of Black
History Month, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about one of my African American heroes in the field of Agriculture.
George Washington Carver was the first African American to attend Iowa State University where he earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Agriculture. Dr. Carver, known as the “Peanut Man,” was a famous botanist and an expert in the plant research and development. After his time at Iowa State, he was recruited to become the Agriculture Director at Tuskegee Institute.
During this time at Tuskegee Institute, Dr. Carver taught farmers about the importance of
crop rotation to improve soil fertility by using organic fertilizers. He invented the “Jesup
Wagon”, a traveling demonstration wagon to teach famers throughout rural Alabama
how to grow crops, such as peanuts, sweet potatoes, pecans, and soybean.
Dr. Carver developed over 300 products from peanuts and over 100 from sweet potatoes.
Some of the uses of peanuts that he discovered where shaving cream, plastics, shampoo,
and wood stains to name a few. His work with peanuts contributed to economic
improvement for the south and the peanut industry in Georgia. This legume would help
poor cotton farmers in the south improve their nutrient depleted soils. As you can see, he
was well-known for his work with peanuts.
Dr. Carver wrote over 40 agriculture bulletins with subjects ranging from alfalfa to recipes. He wrote recipes for peanut soups, breads, salads, desserts and 29 candies. He also wrote about feeding acorns to livestock.
Dr. Carver is my favorite African American scientist. He has received numerous awards because of his contributions to the advancement of his race. Dr. Carver played a crucial role in the creation of the Cooperative Extension Service. I am proud to carry forth the Extension works and legacy of Dr. George Washington Carver!
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tuskegee University Archive