Art and Essay Contest

Image is a colorful painting of George Washington Carver by a student in the annual Art and Essay contest.
George Washington Carver NM 3rd and 4th Grade Art & Essay Contest

NPS Photo

3rd & 4th Grade Art and Essay Contest

The 3rd & 4th grade Art and Essay Contest celebrates Black History Month while encouraging students' creativity through essay writing and creating original artwork. Based on the annual theme, student work is recognized with an art show and display of essays, plus an awards ceremony. Awards, ribbons, and certificates are provided. The program features free lessons on the park website and virtual classroom visits.


2023 Art and Essay Contest for 3rd and 4th Graders


Based on George Washington Carver's quote: "From a child, I had an inordinate desire for knowledge, especially music, painting, flowers, and the sciences."

Teachers, your students are invited to enter original artwork or essays based on the theme and quote. The contest is open to 3rd & 4th graders. First place winners become park rangers for a day! Entry deadline is February 16, 2023.

George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the birthplace and childhood home of the renowned scientist and educator, who was a prolific writer and creative artist. This contest strengthens writing skills and encourages artistic expression and addresses STREAM objectives.

Theme - Curiosity, based on George Washington Carver’s quote From a child, I had an inordinate desire for knowledge, especially music, painting, flowers, and the sciences. For more information, read the 1897 or Thereabouts letter written by George Washington Carver.

Entry Rules and Submission

  • entries may be completed in person or digitally, my mail, or in person
  • open to 3rd & 4th graders

  • must be submitted by a teacher or home educator
  • limit one essay and one art piece per student; no group projects
  • 2-D or 3-D artwork, digital or traditional materials, must not exceed 24” on any side, and include a title; submit my mail, in person, or email one photo as .jpg or .pdf
  • essays limited to 500 words, typed or hand-written, and must include a title; submit my mail, in person, or email one file as .doc, .pdf, or .jpg
  • no identifying information on entries! Use the cover page.
  • entry deadline: February 16, 2023


Art judges are artists, art educators, and others interested in youth art. Art is judged on theme expression, originality, technical ability, creativity. An art show will be set up in the visitor center beginning March 6th. Essay judges are pre-service teachers, retired educators, authors, and others interested in youth writing. Essay judging is based on the 6+1 trait writing scoring guide (see below).


An awards ceremony and reception is set for April 1, 2023, at 2:00 pm.. First place winners receive a biography of George Washington Carver and get to be a park ranger for a day! Their teacher also receives a biography. 1st-3rd place winners in each category and in each grade receive a medal. All participants receive a certificate. Special guest: Roary the Lion from Missouri Southern State University will join the awards fun! Get your photo taken with Roary! Refreshments will be served.

Teacher Resources

  1. George Washington Carver's letter: 1897 or Thereabouts (included)
  2. George Washington Carver the Artist lesson plans (call or email to have this sent to you)
  3. Film (12 min.): George Washington Carver, A Man of Character
  4. Virtual Visits with park rangers and park volunteers to discuss the theme


This contest is generously supported by:

Send Submissions To:

e-mail us
For questions, call 417-325-4151
George Washington Carver National Monument
5646 Carver Road
Diamond, Missouri 64840


Cover Page and Release Statement

Please type or print the following information.

Student Name _____________________________________________________________ Grade Level _______
Title of Art and/or Essay ______________________________________________________
School Name ______________________________________________________________
Teacher Name ______________________________________________________________
Teacher Email ___________________________________________________ Telephone ______________________

George Washington Carver National Monument 3rd & 4th Grade Art and Essay Contest Release Statement

I declare and affirm that I am the person who created the work submitted and that I consent to the art and/or essay being entered in the Art and Essay Contest and for it to be displayed, should it win 1st-3rd place, on the George Washington Carver National Monument website and/or in other publications at George Washington Carver National Monument.

Student signature ____________________________________ Date_____________________

I affirm and declare as set forth above that I am the student’s parent or legal guardian and that I consent to the art and/or essay being entered in the Art and Essay Contest and for it to be displayed, should it win 1st-3rd place, on the George Washington Carver National Monument website and/or in other publications at George Washington Carver National Monument.

Parent/Guardian signature ____________________________ Date______________________


1897 Or Thereabouts

George Washington Carver's Own Brief History of His Life

Little is known about George Washington Carver's early years. Even some of his own recollections are sketchy and are not supported by fact. This document provides a general overview of Mr. Carver and should not be used as the definitive source on his life. This transcription is from George Washington Carver’s original letter based on his reflections of his early life.

(NOTE: The following letter written by George Washington Carver contains phonetic spellings and, in some cases, misspellings. Please explains to students.)

1897 Or Thereabouts

As nearly as I can trace my history, I was about 2 weeks old when the war closed. My parents were both slaves, Father was killed shortly after my birth while hauling wood to town on an ox wagon

I had 3 sisters and one brother. Two sisters and my brother I know to be dead only as history tells me. Yet I do not doubt it as they are buried in the family burying ground.

My sister mother and myself were ku Clucked, and sold in Arkansaw and there are now so many conflicting reports concerning there I dare not say if they are dead or alive. Mr. Carver the jentleman who owned my mother sent a man for us, but only I was brought back, nearly dead with whooping cough with the report that mother & sister was dead, although some sauy they saw them afterwards going north with the soldiers.

My home was near Neosho Newton Co Missouri where I remained until I was about 9 years old my body was very feble and it was a constant warfare between life and death to see who would gain the mastery-----

From a child I had an inordinate desire for knowledge, and especially music, painting, flowers, and the sciences. Algebra being one of my favorite studies.

Day after day I spent in the woods alone in order to callect my floral beautis, and put them in my little garden I had hid hidden in brush not far from the house., As it was considered foolishness in that neighborhood to waste time on flowers.

And many are the tears I have shed because I would break the roots or flower of off some of my pets while removing them from the ground, and strange to say all sorts of vegetation seemed to thrive under my touch until I was styled the plant doctor, and plants from all over the country would be brought to me for treatment. At this time I had never heard of botany and could scerly read.

Rocks had an equal fascination for me and many are the basketsfull that I have been compelled to remove from the outside chimney corner of that old log house, with the injunction to throw them down hill. I obeyed but picked up the choicest ones and hid them in another place, And some how that same chimney corner would, in a few days, or weeks be running over again to suffer the same fate I have some of the specimens in my cullection now and consider them the choicest of the lot. Mr. and Mrs. Carver were very kind to me and I thank them so much for my home training. They encourogyed me to secure knowledge helping me all they could, but this was quite limited. As we lived in the country no colored schools were available So I was permitted to go 8 miles to a school at town (Neosho). This simply sharpened my apetite for more knowledge. I managed to secure all of my meager wardrobe from home, and when they heard from me I was cooking for a wealthy family in Ft. Scott Kans. for my board, clothes and school privileges.

Of course they were indignant and sent for me to come home at once, to die as the family doctor had told them I would never live to see 21 years of age. I trusted to God and pressed on (I had been a Christian since about 8 years old.) Sunschine and shadow were profusely intermingled such as naturaly befall a defenceless orphan by those who wish to prey upon them

My health began improving and I remained here for two or 3 years, From here to Olatha, Kans. to school, From there to Paola Normal School, from there to Minneapolis, Kans. where I remained in school about 7 years finishing the high school, and in addition some Latin and greek. From here to Kans. City enterd a business college of Short hand and typewriting. I was here to have a position in the union telegraph office as stenogropher & typewriter, but the thirst for knowledge gained the mastery and I sought to enter Highland College in k at Highland Kans. Was refused on account of my culor.

I went from here to the Western part of Kans where I saw the subject of my famous Yu Yucca & Cactus painting that went to the Worlds Fair. I drifted from here to Winterset Iowa, began as head cook in a large hotel. Many thanks here for the acquaintance of Mrs. & Mr. & Mrs. Dr. Milholland, who insisted upon me going to an Art school, and choose Simpson College for me.

The opening of school found me at Simpson attempting to run a laundry for my support and batching to economize For quite one month I lived on prayer beef suet and corn meal, and quite often being without the suet and meal. Modesty prevented me telling my condition to strangers.

The news soon spread that I did laundry work and realy needed it, so from that time on favors not only rained but poured upon me. I cannot speak too highly of the faculty, Students and in fact, the town jeneraly, they all seemed to take pride in seeing if he or She might not do more for me than someone else.

But I wish to especially mention the names of Miss Etta M. Budd my art teacher Mrs. W. A. Liston & family, and Rev. A. D. Field & family. Aside from their substantial help at Simpson, were the means of my attendance at Ames. (Please fix this to suit).

I think you know my career at Ames and will fix it better than I. I will simply mention a few things. I was received the prize offered for the best herbarium in Cryptogamy I would like to have said more about you Mrs. Liston & Miss Budd but I feared you would not put it an in about yourself, and I did not want one without all.

I received a letter from Mrs. Liston and she gave me an idea that it was not to be a book or anything of the kind this is only a fragmentary list.

I knit Chrochit, and made all my hose mittens, etc. while I was in school

If this is not sufficient please let me know, And if it ever comes out in print I would like to see it.

God bless you all,
Geo. W. Carver


Essay 6 + 1 Trait Scoring Guide
George Washington Carver National Monument
Art & Essay Contest

GWCA Art & Essay 2022 Rubric
George Washington Carver NM Art and Essay Contest for 3rd & 4th Graders Rubric.


Last updated: December 14, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

5646 Carver Road
Diamond, MO 64840



Contact Us