George Washington Carver created more than 300 products from the peanut plant.
Born into slavery in Missouri, near the end of the Civil War, Carver displayed a curiosity for learning and delicate touch for plant life from his earliest years. Carver eventually entered Iowa’s Simpson College and then the school that became Iowa State University, where he earned his master’s in agriculture in 1896.
As director of the agricultural department at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute, Carver worked to develop sustainable farming practices when he wasn’t bogged down by more menial tasks like actually teaching. Generations of cotton planting and the intrusion of the boll weevil had decimated Southern farms by the early 1900s, and Carver encouraged farmers to develop other crops that revitalized the soil, like cowpeas, beans, sweet potatoes and peanuts.