George Washington Carver's eyes followed the long rows of cotton as his train flew along the
tracks. All he could think about as he viewed the sea of cotton was how the land had been robbed
of all its strength. It was no wonder that the farmers here were struggling. At that time, 1896, there
was much suffering. People suffered from poor education, poor housing, and even poorer food. As
George saw the problems he asked himself, "What can I do to help these poor farmers?"
That's the kind of man George Carver was. He was always looking for ways to help others. He
approached every problem with the attitude of "I Will".
He was headed to Tuskegee Institute. His assignment there was to make the land a model farm.
At 4:00 a.m. as Carver slipped out of bed, as was his habit the remainder of his life, ideas flooded
The thirteen students at the farm hauled away load after load of rubbish. The 19-acre
"Experimental School Farm" was the first of its kind. Carver encouraged his students saying, "This
is the worst land in Alabama, but we can make it fruitful". Skeptical at first, the students brought
loads of decayed leaves and muck from the surrounding forest and spread them on the field.
Professor Carver got behind the plow and started plowing the muck into the depleted soil.
Neighboring farmers laughed! Carver smiled and kept plowing.
Did you spot the "I Will"?
Working in the field he became part of the solution while setting an example for his students.
"Cowpeas!" cried the students. Cowpeas were for throwing to the hogs! Nevertheless, cowpeas
were planted on the experimental farm. After the harvest,Carver treated the students to pancakes,
potatoes, and mouth-watering meatloaf made from the harvest of cowpeas.
Carver explained to his students that planting the same crop year after year tires out the land:
"Just as a man gets tired after working all day, you must let your soil rest and be refreshed." That
year they planted sweet potatoes. Finally, after two years of letting the land grow different crops,
cotton was once again planted in the regenerated soil.
At the harvest, the experimental farm was the topic on every farmer's lips. Five hundred pounds
per acre! Carver's healthy cotton plants spoke for themselves. Those who had laughed at his
foreign techniques now gained deep respect for Professor Carver.
Did you notice the "I Will"? The whole team of Southern farmers benefited from this success.
Upon returning home, Carver realized that even though the farm experiment had been a huge
success, it only benefited those that were able to go to it. The poverty-stricken people that could
not go and see did not know how to manage their land.
The idea slowly formed in Carver's mind. "There must be a way to do more. If they can't come to
the school, I will take the school to them!" The School on Wheels caught immediate attention as it
rolled into town. Each time it came, there were new demonstrations. First it was the wire chicken
coop, then a cream separator that was cranked by hand. Next, the demonstrations were about new
seeds, new paints, new recipes, or new tools. People could not wait to see what the wagon would
bring next time.
Did you spot the "I Will"? George did not put off until later what could be done that day.
Later, Carver's students began doing the demonstrations, passing on to others the things they had
learned. Everywhere they went, the spirit of Professor Carver went saying, "I see what you need.
Here, let me help you."
written by Kelly Sorge