DIAMOND, Mo. — The George Washington Carver National Monument is accepting fourth-grade art and essay contest submissions until Feb. 17.
This year’s theme is built on a quote that is attributed to Carver: “My work is that of conservation, the saving of things that the average person throws away.”
The annual contest is a way for the monument to encourage fourth-graders to research Carver’s life.
This year, the national monument installed a new exhibit on Carver, recycling, conservation and sustainability. This exhibit is where the idea for this year’s theme stemmed.
“Sustainability is a huge emphasis here,” said Diane Eilenstein, park ranger. “We work really hard at that, and that is very much like George Washington Carver.”
Carver formed his first lab from items he found in the trash, Eilenstein said. He used broken bottles, old tin cans and other disregarded items to make his lab at the Tuskegee Institute.
“He was very creative, resourceful and frugal,” Eilenstein said. “Even when he had money to spend, he was very careful and was always finding new uses for old things.”
The monument partners with the Missouri Southern State University Department of Teacher Education and the Carver Birthplace Association to make the event possible. Both provide volunteers who help set up the artwork and essays as well as judge the pieces.
“We all work together, and for the (fourth-grade) teachers to justify taking the time out to do something extra like this, we have to make sure it’s curriculum-based,” Eilenstein said. “It’s an extremely valuable program for kids to participate in.”
A researched-based rubric is used to score essays, and future elementary art teachers judge the artwork. Eilenstein said many teachers have their students work on the art and essays during English and art classes.
“It’s just a whole lot of fun and helps the students learn more about Mr. Carver,” Eilenstein said.
Park rangers are available to speak to classes about Carver and this year’s theme.
“The volunteers encourage the children to just work a little harder,” Eilenstein said. “What’s it going to take to make your essay the one that rises above the rest?”
First-place winners of both categories receive a trophy and a gift certificate to spend in the bookstore at the monument. Second- and third-place winners, along with the most creative classroom of both categories, will receive trophies and certificates.
Every Kid in a Park
Any fourth-grader who attends the awards ceremony for the art and essay contest at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25, in the visitor’s center of the George Washington Carver National Monument will receive a plastic Every Kid in a Park Pass.