George Washington Carver is possibly the most famous agricultural scientist of all time. He invented hundreds of products that could be made from crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes, and he changed the methods of farming in the southern United States. The story of George Washington Carver’s life is interesting and inspiring, as it shows how some people can achieve success despite adversity.
George Washington Carver was born in a small town in the American state of Missouri, in 1864 or 1865. He was named after the first President of the United States. George’s parents were slaves. His father was killed in an accident, and his mother was kidnapped and later died. George and his brother were raised by a married couple, the Carvers, who had owned George’s mother.
George was often sick during his childhood, but he showed an intense interest in nature. The Carvers taught George to read and write, and he became known locally as an expert on plants. Later, the Carvers sent George to a school for African-American children in a nearby town. After his graduation, George Washington Carver continued his education in the state of Iowa.
While a student in Iowa, Carver had very little money and had to work at many jobs to afford the costs of his education. However, his knowledge of plants was very impressive, and after receiving his Master’s degree, he became a teacher at the college he had attended as a student.
Soon, however, Carver moved south to the state of Alabama, where he worked as a teacher and researcher at a college for African-American students. It was here that Carver stayed for the rest of his life, and it was here that he performed his important agricultural research.
One problem for farmers in the southern United States was that the most widespread crops, cotton and tobacco, tended to remove nutrients from the soil. Carver realized that this problem could be solved, to some extent, by “rotating” the cotton and tobacco crops with other kinds of crops, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes, which could help to preserve the nutrients in the soil.
Carver’s discoveries made the peanut, the sweet potato, and the soybean very useful to southern farmers. He invented the food product known as peanut butter, plus hundreds of other products. For example, Carver found ways to produce plastics, ink, cooking oil, paints, and cosmetics from peanuts and other crops. Carver also developed a new variety of cotton.
Carver received many awards for his scientific research, but he was never interested in fame or fortune. When Carver died, in 1943, the American government made his birthplace a national monument. Today, Carver is still known as a great agricultural scientist.