Dr. Russell grew up in New York on a horse & dairy cow farm. He attended Horsehead High School. After high school he attended Cornell University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science. Following graduation he went to work as a hunter/jumper horse trainer and later trained Morgans.
Dr. Russell later made the decision to change careers to work in extension education. He returned to school to obtain his masters and doctorial degrees from the University of Illinois. He has a Ph.D. in amino acid nutrition in foals.
He met his wife, Laurie, in Illinois. The Russell's have 3 children and own a horse boarding/lesson facility. He has worked at Purdue University over 25 years as an extension educator, advisor, and professor.