ISU Student Awarded George Washington Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award

October 29th, 2018

AMES, Iowa – A student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University received the George Washington Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award at Tuskegee University.

Megan Kemp, a senior majoring in agronomy and global resource systems, was one of seven undergraduate students nationwide to receive the award. This is the third year the award was presented to honor the legacy of George Washington Carver by recognizing students who are following in the footsteps of Carver — emulating his curiosity about life and nature, his generosity of spirit and his dedication to progress.

Kemp grew up in Durango, Iowa, but considers herself a global citizen. Through research experiences, Kemp has been able to combine her passion for agriculture, community service and cross-cultural work to serve marginalized communities throughout the world. She said it’s an honor to be recognized by her mentors, peers and community in this way.

“Words cannot describe the range of emotions I feel when I think of how people believe I am aligned with Dr. Carver. It reaffirms my passion for agriculture and service within the global community,” Kemp said.

Outside of academics and work, Kemp serves as the president of the ISU chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences and is a member of the Leaders Enhancing Agriculture, Diversity, Inclusion and Trust Collective (LEAD-IT).

Catherine Swoboda, Cargill Global Resource Systems lecturer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said Kemp has an impressive list of activities that involve agriculture, research, cross-cultural work, service and promoting diversity.

“Given Megan’s talents and the issues to which she devotes herself, it is no surprise that Megan is planning a career in agricultural extension, to support diverse communities and societies through agricultural development and innovation,” Swoboda said.

Carver 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. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1894 and his master’s degree in 1896. Carver was 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.

The award is presented to students who are 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.

This year Kemp was one of seven recipients to receive the Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award nationwide. The other recipients are:

  • Kandace Edwards, Lincoln University of Missouri 
  • Olivia Gilstrap, Florida A&M University
  • Lonnie Hobbs, Kansas State University
  • Cerina James,  Tuskegee University
  • Irene Lewis, Southern University and A&M College
  • Manoj Rai, Simpson College

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