Gruss Named Forage Specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach

Shelby Gruss

Shelby Gruss has joined Iowa State University as an assistant professor of agronomy and Extension and Outreach state forage specialist.

Gruss will help educate Iowans about the value of forage production and address issues related to forage management, pests and diseases.

She grew up on her family’s row crop farm in northeast Indiana and earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gruss earned her Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics from Purdue University in 2021 and completed her post doctorate at Michigan State last year.

“I look forward to helping Iowa farmers utilize forages in the best way that they can,” she said. “There are so many different species that are classified as forages, and so many uses for forages, so no day will ever look the same.”

Gruss also has teaching and research duties and said she looks forward to the many interactions she will have across campus and out in the field. She will work closely with the extension crops team and also the extension livestock specialists.

“I see forages playing a role in almost any type of farming system,” she said. “They can help build soil health, help reduce soil erosion, and help with water quality, and they’re a feed source for livestock.”

Josh Michel, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, said he’s pleased to welcome Gruss as she fills an important role for Iowa producers.

“As the state forage extension specialist, she will be able to collaborate with field specialists across the state to deliver forage-related programs and content to farmers and producers. This is something that field specialists have been looking forward to for quite some time and we’re very eager to work with her,” said Michel. “Her diverse background and experience will be extremely valuable as she begins to identify priority areas in forages across the state.”

While she has a passion for forages, Gruss is also an accomplished wheelchair basketball athlete, having played for the University of Illinois and the U.S. Women’s National Team.

She is currently the athlete representative for the U.S. Paralympic women’s basketball team, and is an avid fan of basketball in general.

She can be reached at or 515-294-1360.

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