Why are hundreds of schools across the United States named after a botanist (a person who studies plants)? George Washington Carver studied art in college but he is famous for his work as a botanist. Carver used his knowledge of plants to help change the crops grown in the southern United States. He encouraged the idea of crop rotation. He promoted the ideas of growing plants that enriched rather than depleted the soil, such as soybeans and peanuts. During Carver's lifetime, he created more than 300 products made from peanuts and more than 118 from sweet potatoes.