What is the Chris Doll Scholarship?

providing scholarships to students pursuing careers in fruits and vegetables at the university of illinois

Chris Doll has been associated with the Illinois fruit and vegetable industry since he began duties as Area Adviser in Fruits and Vegetables in 17 southwest counties for the U of I extension in 1965.  The position with the University of Illinois Extension Service was to provide transfer of research from the University as well as to conduct programs to promote sustainable education programs in those crops in southwest Illinois and throughout the state.  His goals of “improving the quality of life” were aimed at all he served. He retired from the University of Illinois in 1994, but continued to breed and test horseradish varieties for nine years and consulted with both fruit and vegetable growers for 14 years.

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Chris Doll

During his 28 years of fruit and vegetable work in Illinois, Chris wrote a weekly column for fellow advisers and homeowners, and multiple newsletters via direct mail to growers and marketers of strawberries, tree fruits, vegetables, and horseradish, as well as some articles for the ISGA newsletter.  He has attended all but one of the state association meetings and participated as an advisor during the combining of state meetings for the fruit and vegetable groups. He has been recognized with the Horticulture Society’s Hall of Fame, Cider Makers Award, and the ACES Alumni Merit Award.


Chris is native to Illinois having been born and raised on a farm that included apples and peaches near Pocahontas where he went to high school and graduated in 1945.  After serving a year in the Navy, he graduated in six semesters from the University of Illinois with a B.S. degree in pomology, and continued his education at Kansas State University for his M.S. degree.  That led to a position at Iowa State University’s Experimental Fruit Farm at Council Bluffs in 1951. The darm consisted of 100 acres of terraced hill land dedicated to helping perpetuate the fruit industry of southwest Iowa.  Research, teaching, and extension were concentrated on both tree and small fruits, and resulted in research paper on apple and grape roots, fertilizers for grapes and apples, irrigation, herbicides for all crops, and the introduction of the Black Hawk black raspberry and Chieftain apple.

The area adviser program in Illinois had about the same goal, that of sustaining or expanding both the fruit and vegetable industry through the teaching and extension. (By following Dr. Roscoe Randell’s work).  The vegetable area was primarily the American Bottoms Area near the St. Louis market area, with most of the acreage being for wholesale. It also included the major horseradish production area of the U.S. and the challenges of growing and marketing.  The fruit industry area included 17 and later 22 counties, which had commercial production of strawberries, apples, and peaches for the wholesale market and some established retailers.

Chris has enjoyed living with his wife Irene for 62+ years and now visiting with their 6 children and 16 grandchildren in various states.  He has also enjoyed his visits, card playing, and associations with all members of the fruit and vegetable business, or as he is wont to say – the finest people on earth.

How do I donate to the Chris Doll Scholarship?

Contact us at Illinois Specialty Growers Association if you’re interested in donating to the Chris Doll Scholarship.

Recent Chris Doll Scholarship Recipients

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“I love the hands-on experience I get in class at UIUC, whether its growing plants in the greenhouse or working out at the Student Sustainable Farm.”

LAUREN KESSLER, Crop Sciences - Horticultural Food Systems student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign