Castro Awarded George Washington Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award

December 8th, 2020

AMES, Iowa – Javelis Marín Castro, a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, has been selected to receive the George Washington Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award.

Marín Castro, from Humacao, Puerto Rico, is a junior in animal ecology with a minor in animal science. She’s currently serving as the Iowa State University Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Chapter president.

She came to Iowa State to study wildlife and exotic animal behavior, health and habitat. Her career goal is to earn an advanced degree in veterinary medicine and work in wildlife conservation in Africa or Australia.

Marín Castro is involved in a variety of student organizations, including the Leaders Enhancing Agriculture; Diversity, Inclusion and Trust, Collective (LEAD IT); the Natural Resource and Ecology Management Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee; the TRIO Student Support Services Program and the Puerto Rican Student Association. She’s also worked as a community advisor at the Iowa State Department of Residence and volunteers at the Ames Animal Shelter.

“I’m honored to receive this award. I believe my goals reflect what George Washington Carver lived,” Marín Castro said. “I’m passionate about pursuing work with wildlife animals and giving back to nature.”

The award honors George Washington Carver, who was an internationally recognized scientist, inventor, artist and musician born into slavery in Missouri near the end of the Civil War. He was the first African American student to be admitted to Iowa State, where he earned a  bachelor’s degree in 1894 and a master’s degree in 1896. Carver became the first African American faculty member at Iowa State and went on to gain an international reputation during a long career at Tuskegee University.

The award is sponsored by the George Washington Carver Birthplace Association, which is a nonprofit cooperating association of the National Park Service at the George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri.

Elizabeth Martinez-Podolsky, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences multicultural liaison officer and undergraduate retention specialist, said Marín Castro’s passion for nature reflects what George Washington Carver did during his lifetime.

“Javelis is a high achieving student,” Martinez-Podolsky said. “She is involved all across her campus community, as a MANRRS Chapter president she mentors other student leaders to help them see their potential, and Javelis also devotes the remainder of her time volunteering to present to diverse audiences about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her service mission reflects Carver’s focus during his lifetime.”

The award is presented to first-generation college students pursuing a scientific degree, doing well academically, involved in research, engaged in arts and the humanities, and who demonstrate a determination and perseverance in pursuing their educational and life goals.

On Oct. 30, Marín Castro was one of five recipients nationwide to receive the Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award. The other recipients were:

  • Collin Ankton, Lincoln University
  • Jordan D. Bailey, Kansas State University
  • Miguel Sanchez, Simpson College
  • Natalie Varela, Tuskegee University

Barb McBreen, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications, 515-294-0707,