Black History Month—Ag Science Edition

During Black History Month, CAST has highlighted some of the great agricultural work done by African Americans. This blog features agriculturalists and scientists who have had an impact on our member universities.

Dr. George Washington Carver—Tuskegee University and Iowa State University

Dr. George Washington Carver

Dr. Carver wanted to coax farmers away from cotton to such soil-enhancing, protein-rich crops as soybeans and peanuts and to teach them self-sufficiency and conservation. Dr. Carver did this by using a series of free, simply written brochures to teach farmers. He received his M.S. degree from Iowa State University and in 1896 he became the Agriculture Director at Tuskegee University. In 1906, he designed the Jessup Wagon, a demonstration laboratory on wheels, which he believed to be his most significant contribution toward educating farmers. Learn more about him on

Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson—Tuskegee University and Iowa State University

Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson

Dr. Patterson graduated from the Iowa State College (now University) College of Veterinary Medicine in 1923. In 1944 he founded the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee. He also provided the model of cooperative fundraising that enabled financially strapped private black colleges to survive. Dr. Patterson’s prominence in higher education won him an invitation to sit on Harry S. Truman’s President’s Commission on Higher Education from 1946-1947, which called for the reorganization of higher education in the United States. You can read more about Dr. Patterson’s accomplishments on

Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb—Tuskegee University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb

Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb completed her B.S. degree at the Tuskegee Institute. In 1949, Dr. Johnson Webb was the first African American woman to graduate from veterinary school and practice veterinary medicine in the United States. At Tuskegee she taught anatomy until 1959 and then served as a professor of biology at NC A&T, where she was also part of the planning committee that founded the School of Veterinary Medicine of North Carolina State University. You can read more about Dr. Johnson Webb as well as other African Americans who shaped agriculture and science as we know it on

Henry Kirklin—University of Missouri

Henry Kirklin with Lorenzo Renfro, his grandson

Henry Kirklin was a former enslaved person who became a prize-winning gardener and horticulturist and a successful businessman. The head of the horticulture department at University of Missouri noticed Kirklin’s skill and asked him to teach the lab component of some classes. Hundreds of students learned the fine art of pruning and grafting from Kirklin, whether at the university, or by visiting his successful farm to learn about propagation after going into business for himself. Learn more about Kirklin’s accomplishments on

Texas A&M University discusses the important milestones and achievements of Black students, faculty, and staff over the years.

Help Support CAST

Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.