It’s a Year-Long Celebration of Incredible History at George Washington Carver
By Don Lowe • Photo courtesy George Washington Carver National Monument
As George Washington Carver National Monument, which is a vital part of the National Park Service, celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2018, there’s reason to be more excited than ever with all that’s taking place here this year.
Curtis Gregory, who serves as park ranger at George Washington Carver National Monument and has worked here for about 14 years, says, “Many visitors enjoy learning about George Washington Carver’s incredible story and knowing that it started on a Missouri farm.
“Many people aren’t aware that he was born in Missouri. Visitors also enjoy learning about Carver’s other interests besides science, such as education, art, music and humanitarian causes.”
Gregory is adamant George Washington Carver National Monument has continued to thrive all these years thanks in great part to having “a wonderful staff and outstanding volunteers.
“We couldn’t do half the things we do, such as education programs, without volunteers. They are great and provide wonderful community support.”
There certainly are plenty of resources this facility offers for educators to use, and the George Washington Carver National Monument website encourages participation in curriculum-based education programs that are available.
The website includes lesson plans, along with help organizing a field trip and more by accessing the For Teachers section of the website. There are a variety of curriculum materials, videos to loan, field trip packets tailored for grades K-12 and traveling trunks, which are designed for children who may not be able to visit the park.
While education is a huge focus, there are a number of terrific programs that take place throughout the year. In particular, Storytelling Days August 24 from 6 pm to 8 pm and August 25, 11 am-3 pm, and Prairie Day September 8 that are sure to be of interest.
In explaining Storytelling Days, Gregory says, “To celebrate the National Park Service’s birthday, all weekend long we will invite visitors to come and hear the stories these special places and spaces hold with various storytellers.
“Our units protect not only the scenic beauty in places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but the powerful stories, like George Washington Carver and more.”
As for Prairie Day, Gregory says it’s all about “celebrating life on the Missouri prairie during the late 1800s when George Washington Carver was a child.
“This event will include basket weaving, candle making, Dutch oven cooking, spinning, weaving, storytelling, musical groups, quilting, a junior ranger and more. Prairie Day is an annual event that started in the 1980s.”
Whether it’s the various special occasions that help showcase this national park from time to time or typical day-to-day operations, Gregory says what he enjoys most of all about his job is “working with visitors and providing historic information and interpretation about George Washington Carver as well as doing historical research.”
Gregory adds he also takes a great deal of pride in helping to “care for the museum curatorial collection.”
Ultimately, what makes Gregory most proud to be part of this important effort on a daily basis is “sharing GWC’s wonderful story and sharing the African-American experience.”
George Washington Carver
What: 75th Anniversary of George Washington Carver National Monument – Established July 14, 1943, by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first national monument in the National Park Service dedicated to a black American.
When: Celebrating three quarters of a century throughout 2018.
Where: Located 2 miles west of Diamond, Missouri.
Why: Preserves the birthplace and childhood home of George Washington Carver, as well as the 1881 Moses Carver house and the Carver cemetery.
Notable: The 240-acre park has a ¾-mile nature trail, film, museum and an interactive exhibit area for students. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Quotable: “Carver’s story is amazing,” says George Washington Carver National Monument Park Ranger Curtis Gregory. “He had the determination at a very young age to leave the Carver farm and go out on his own to get an education. There were struggles and many obstacles, but he didn’t stop and succeeded.”
CALENDAR OF EVENTS – August & September
Nature Discovery Workshop for Teachers: Wednesday, August 1, 10 am-3 pm
Expressions of the Soul: Saturday, August 11, 1 pm-2 pm
Agricultural School on Wheels/“Moving Toward Education-The Jesup Wagon”: Saturday, August 18, 1 pm-2 pm
Storytelling Festival: Friday, August 24, 6 pm-8 pm & Saturday, August 25, 11 am-3 pm
Founder’s Day Program: Sunday, August 26, 11 am-1 pm
George Washington Carver/Struggle for Education in a Segregated America: Saturday, September 1, 1 pm-2 pm
Prairie Day 2018: Saturday, September 8, 10 am-3 pm
Epitaphs and Engravings: Saturday, September 15, 1 pm-2 pm
National Public Lands Day: Saturday, September 22, 10 am-3 pm
Exploring the Carver Collection: Sunday, September 23, 1 pm-2 pm
B.A.R.K. Ranger Program: Saturday, September 29, 9 am-11 am