Black History Month Series

Year of Innovation

Outdoor Afro celebrates our “Year of Innovation” during 2024. Reimagining the possibilities in year-round programming and campaigns to continue to reconnect more Black people and Black communities to land, water, and wildlife. Tying into this year’s theme, we’re uplifting one of the original conservation champions who invented systems and services that still benefit our collective nature needs today. This year we uplift George Washington Carver. The originator of regenerative agriculture. Outdoor Afro volunteer leaders are able to guide more than 60,000 community participants annually in nature activities nationwide because of pioneers like Carver. He thought big to reinvent outdoor spaces – distinctly in farming culture. Scroll to learn how he became the architect of hundreds of products, and how you can tap into his genius ideas and inventions throughout this year.

The Past

Carver hurled into the history books by becoming the first Black person to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in 1894. Researching fungal infections of soybean plants, he advanced his knowledge by identifying and treating plant diseases. He advanced his education by earning a Master of Agriculture two years later, shifting his focus to help Southern farmers achieve sustainable agriculture practices like crop rotation to restore nutrients into soil. Carver’s inventions included more than 300 commercial, industrial, and food products. These innovations included products like peanuts (giving him the nickname “The Peanut Man”), cooking oils, beverages, paper, soaps, cosmetics, dyes, paints/stains, and even medicines. Items we still use outdoors today. As a faculty member at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, he released 44 nature bulletins that reported cultivation findings for farmers, recipes for housewives, and science information for teachers.

The Present

Mirroring Carver’s gift to innovate in nature, Outdoor Afro’s nearly 100 selected and trained volunteer leaders curate and guide avant-garde adventures through our Volunteer Leader Program. This program includes networks that span 60 cities and 32 states, including Washington, D.C. Through our volunteer leaders’ monthly network activities (ex: foraging, biking, gardening, bird watching, fly fishing, and horseback riding), U.S. communities are able to strengthen relationships to their environments. Volunteers also share local Black history and uncover the contributions of our culture’s unsung pathfinders. Each volunteer provides thousands of nature lovers and new neighborhood explorers with modern wilderness, recreation, and life-saving skills; safe, appropriate gear and equipment; free or discounted access to private outdoor spaces; and access to civics information to help take care of the public and everyday spaces we love.

Get Involved

Continue to support our digital storytelling efforts. By doing so, you’re helping us share Outdoor Afro’s impact content about inspirational Black narratives connected to outdoor conservation, recreation, and education like Carver’s story: