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School Garden Movement: Primary and Secondary Resources

George Washington Carver and Nature Study


Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. [George Washington Carver, half-length portrait, facing right, Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama].1906. Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The era of the Nature Study movement was happening at the same time that George Washington Carver was making his name in agricultural education. Invited by Booker T. Washington, Carver joined the Tuskegee Institute in 1896 as the head of the agriculture department at the Tuskegee Institute and Director of the Tuskegee Experiment Station. During this time he taught Black students the fundamentals of scientific agriculture. He believed education and self-reliance were essential to survival and provided a path out of poverty, and one was never too young to start learning to love the land. In his view, education should be applicable to the real world, while also expanding ones view of it.

Among his many publications, written for rural farmers to spread knowledge of better agricultural practices, were a number of publications promoting nature study in schools and also served as an advisor on the Nature Study Review journal. In his publication Progressive Nature Studies, he wrote:

"The study of Nature is both entertaining and instructive, and it is the only true method that leads up to a clear understanding of the great natural principles which surround every branch of business in which we may engage. Aside from this, it encourages investigation and stimulates originality."

The nature study movement went hand-in-hand with the holistic understanding of the natural world held by Carver, in which the proper tending of all things, be it the mind or the soil, would reap benefits for all. 

Learn more about George Washington Carver and Nature Study

George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute

Selected G.W.Carver Nature Study Publications