Wednesday, July 30, 2014

George Washington Carver National Monument

We've had some family friends here for the past few days, and we've enjoyed sharing some local tourist sites with them.  Today, we ventured out to George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, MO. The forecast showed rain basically all day, but it was our last full day with our friends, and we just needed to go.  It was raining when we arrived, but it was a wonderful 68 degrees when we set out to walk on the trails.

View of the fields from the Carver house.  It was a little cloudy, and cool enough for jackets in July!
For those of you who don't know, George Washington Carver was known as the "Plant Doctor" and the "Peanut Man."  He was a artist and scientist who was born in a slave cabin on the park's land.  His father was hanged by bushwackers, and George and his mother were kidnapped and taken to Arkansas to be sold.  Moses Carver, the farmer who owned the land where George was born, re-bought George, but couldn't save his mother.  George spent many of his childhood years in Diamond, but soon moved on to pursue education throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa.  After graduating college in Iowa, he began a teaching career at Tuskegee University in Alabama.  Here, he began experimenting with crops that would do well in the barren southern soil.  He worked primarily with cow peas, peanuts, and sweet potatoes.  He found over 300 uses for peanuts alone!  GWC also went on to speak around the nation on segregation, and was an early Civil Rights leader.  It's amazing to think that this man was from a tiny town down the road!

Isn't the trail through the woods beautiful!
The GWC National Monument was built in 1953, and is the first national park/monument to recognize an African American.  It is a GORGEOUS park, with lots of wonderful hands-on activities for kids.  There were enough fun things to keep the two year old in our group busy the whole time we were there!  The video telling about GWC's life was a fantastic addition since my last visit.

I was really excited to find some articles for my classroom around the park.  One article is GWC's memoir, which was typed up to include spelling mistakes and all.  It's a wonderful article we'll read some time this year. They also had a list of quotes by GWC and some other things he's known for.  4th graders in our school study Missouri history, and always visit this park, as well as write biographies about GWC, but I think they'll enjoy these articles.

I asked the worker if I could find articles like this at other national parks/monuments, and she said that they should have them at many places.  I'll definitely be looking for some when I head over to the Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas!  If all parks have articles like this, I'll have a wonderful collection for close reading!

In college, I created a national parks literacy project, and I wrote to every national park in the country.  I received pamphlets from almost every one of them, but if I had known about these articles, I would have most definitely asked for those, too!


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