Headshot of Anastasia Kurth

Kurth Awarded Carter Endowed Graduate Fellowship

Authored on
Jun 21, 2022

Anastasia Kurth has been awarded the Dr. Jack F. and Imogene Carter Endowed Plant Sciences Graduate Fellowship. She is pursuing a Plant Sciences M.S. degree at North Dakota State University with advisor Dr. Marisol Berti. The Endowed Fellowship is named for Jack and Imogene Carter in recognition of their dedication to North Dakota agriculture and their interest in creating a premier agronomy department for the education of generations of students. Berti leads the forages and biomass production project.

Kurth grew up in Geneva, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and became interested in pursuing an agriculture degree after joining an FFA chapter at a nearby school district. “My grandparents grew up on farms and my extended family operates crop farms,'' says Kurth. “When I got involved in FFA and competed in the agronomy Career Development Event, I decided I wanted to pursue agronomic studies for a career in agriculture.” 

She graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Platteville with a double major in Soil and Crop Science and Environmental Horticulture with a Plant Breeding and Genetics emphasis.

Dr. Andrew Cartmill was Kurth’s advisor at UW-Platteville and encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree. She was also encouraged by fellow undergraduate classmate Sam Bibby, who introduced her to his graduate advisor at NDSU, Berti. Kurth is currently beginning her thesis research integrating alfalfa and winter camelina into sunflower/wheat crop rotations to determine the effects on diversity and perenniality of annual cropping systems. She began her work at NDSU on June 6, 2022.

Carter and his wife Imogene were immensely supportive of graduate students, and the Endowed Fellowship reflects that dedication. Their stated purpose for the endowment is to provide support and training for graduate students in applied agriculture and crop production. The award recipient receives additional funding, above standard stipends, for the research project, supporting the graduate student and other needs. The Carters understood the importance of training quality graduate students to work in university crop production research, education and extension positions, as well as the need by private industry for researchers and sales professionals. Their ultimate goal was to make the NDSU Agronomy/Plant Sciences program a premier university department in the nation.

Carter began working in the Agronomy Department at the North Dakota Agricultural College (later NDSU) in 1950 after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He became Chair of the Agronomy Department in 1960, retiring in 1987. During that time, the department grew from approximately 15 employees, including faculty, staff, support staff and graduate students, to more than 130 people in 1987. He promoted crop breeding, genetics and cytogenetics, and weed control programs in the department, lobbying for legislative support of these programs including designated funding, laboratories, greenhouses and equipment for research. Carter stayed involved in activities in the department after his retirement. Berti, who inherited Carter’s office, noted  “He came to his office every day, even after he retired in 1987, until 2009.”  He passed away in 2011 at the age of 92.

Kurth is busy with her research project. “I already have two experiments growing in my project, and I am working with some familiar and unfamiliar crops, so I am excited to see the study through to the end,” she says.  

Berti is pleased to have Kurth onboard. “Anastasia is a top student with great interest in learning new things and she fits my research program perfectly,” says Berti. Anastasia’s research project is part of a $10 million Sustainable Agricultural Systems CAP project from USDA-NIFA awarded in 2021 to increase the adoption of diverse perennial circular systems to foster resilience and deliver ecosystem services. Berti is the Co-PD and lead of the project’s research objective and received $747,868 of funding for her forages research program at NDSU.