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Registration for the 2019 Academies is now full and closed.

Illinois 4-H is proud to offer this hi-fidelity college exploratory experience on the University of Illinois campus. Participants attend academy sessions led by university professors and enjoy a variety of engaging activities that provide a taste of just how cool college life can be. Imagine getting to work alongside university professors while you’re still in HIGH SCHOOL! Imagine getting to hang out on a college campus. Imagine spending five days with kids your age from all across Illinois. That’s what happens at Illini Summer Academies, so stop imagining it and just do it! This program offers teens the opportunity to explore the University of Illinois campus and many degree programs and careers. Illini Summer Academies is supported through the Illinois 4-H Foundation and intended to serve youth living in Illinois. A limited number of registration slots are available to youth living outside Illinois.

Pick up Saturday, June 29

Please pick up participants from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Bousfield Hall.


  • Check in runs from 4 to 6 PM Sunday, June 23. 
  • The conference is open to youth who have completed eighth grade by June and will be at least 14 by Sept. 1, 2019
  • You’ll stay in Bousfield Hall, 1214 South First Street, Champaign
  • Your cost varies depending on which Academy you choose from the list below. Payment by credit card is required at the time of registration.The cost you see noted includes breakfast and evening dinner meals, lodging, and Academy costs for the entire conference.
  • Youth will be required to buy their own lunches Monday - Thursday.

2019 Academies

All academies feature project-based learning where youth are either conducting experiments, making something, or discovering some aspect of the world few people ever get to see. It wouldn't be college without lots of time for socializing, meeting new friends, and exploring campus. You will CHOOSE ONE of these fields of study for the week when you complete your online registration.

NOTE: The following Academies have reached capacity and are closed:

  • Applied Health
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Vet Med
  • Micro Cellular Biology
  • Mild to Wild

Agricultural mechanization: From Horses to drones

The world of agricultural mechanization provides us with all our food. The technology that performs this important work has moved from horses to horsepower to robots the size of horseshoes. This academy will demonstrate some of these advances. Students will participate in a GPS treasure hunt, learn the basics of hydraulics, test the efficiency of different types of planters, visit our research farms, analyze precision ag unmanned aerial vehicle output, perform an engine lab, generate a GIS map, and explore critical agricultural safety considerations. Come see what agricultural mechanization has to offer! Department: Agricultural Biological Engineering, College of ACES. Cost: $440

Ag Communications: Telling stories about ag and the Environment

Are you interested in writing, editing, or photography? Learn how to apply these skills to tell stories about food, agriculture, and the environment! Join Agricultural Communications for an interactive and hands-on academy filled with discovery and fun! You will learn how to gather data, write and edit a story, take and edit photos to support the story, and publish your story online. We will also show you how drones are used in the agriculture industry and how they are employed to create videos for social media and advertising. Hands-on activities include writing about your experience taste-testing multiple varieties of a favorite agricultural product--POPCORN! Department: Agricultural Communications, College of ACES   Cost: $280

Animal Sciences

Join us for an exciting, hands-on camp all about animals. We will cover a variety of species, from farm animals, to companion animals, to wildlife in a variety of disciplines from nutrition to reproduction. Learn about the world of animal sciences and the career paths animal scientist take. Department: Animal Sciences, College of ACES. COST: $350. 

From Wild to Mild: The role of Animal Scientists in Nutrition and Welfare of Exotic Animals and Pets

This academy is for students interested in careers working with exotic and pet animals as animal scientists, educators, or veterinarians. Students will learn concepts related to nutrition, diet manufacturing of pet and exotic animals, and principles of animal behavior and welfare. This program focuses on active learning and hands-on experience:

  • behind-the-scenes visit to Lincoln Park Zoo to experience and learn about nutrition, behavior, and training, research and conservation programs
  • participate in a demonstration of shaping dog behavior
  • chance to experience science by making a wet dog food at UIUC pilot plant
  • evaluating pet foods in laboratory setting. 
  • Department: Animal Sciences, College of ACES. Cost: $440. 

Work Hard/Play Hard: Careers in health Sciences, sport, and wellness

Interested in health and wellness? Does a career as a doctor, physical therapist, athletic trainer, physical educator, nurse, dentist, audiologist, speech language pathologist, sport marketer, park supervisor or event/tourism planner intrigue you? If so, this is the academy for you! You will learn about exciting health careers and research in the areas of community health, kinesiology, speech and hearing sciences, interdisciplinary health sciences, and recreation, sport and tourism. Activities include participating in cutting edge research laboratories and technology, administering CPR, applying a tourniquet, talking with Illinois graduates, developing leadership skills, visiting innovative campus sites, and working with Illini Service Dogs. Departments: Kinesiology & Community Health; Recreation, Sport, and Tourism; Interdisciplinary Health Sciences; Speech and Hearing Sciences, College of Applied Health Sciences. Cost: $250. 

Sustainable Food Systems

Everyone eats! Growing enough food for everyone in a way that also protects human and environmental health is an ongoing challenge. Come explore three different aspects of sustainable food systems: 1) organic vegetable and fruit production, 2) plant improvement for designing crops of the future, and 3) innovative technology in agriculture. You will get your hands dirty, plant seeds, learn to identify weeds, test your skills at rating crops, play with a mathematical model and meet a new type of agricultural robot. Sustainable food system design is creating many new careers. Learn how you can join in the fun. Department: Crop Sciences, College of ACES. Cost: $240.

Aerospace Engineering

How do aircraft fly and spacecraft orbit? Those questions and others will be addressed in this hands-on Aerospace Engineering academy. We will conduct experiments in rocket propulsion, flight mechanics, and fluid dynamics. You'll have the opportunity to design a spacecraft with a mission to Mars, and explore your creativity in our "What Would MacGyver Do?" challenge. Youth must have completed Algebra 1 to participate. Department: Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering. Cost: $440.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

We introduce robotics, circuits, biomedical imaging, semiconductors/nano-technology, optics/photonics, and power/energy through interactive lessons, projects, and demonstrations in cutting-edge research labs. Lessons introduce how:

  • to design and conduct experiments,
  • to use control theory to make machines do what we want,
  • the power grid operates
  • basic circuits and optical elements work

We will have hands-on components such as troubleshooting an experiment, riding a Segway, using a multimeter, and working with lasers. We introduce ECE Illinois' great history of innovation. During the afternoon project time, students learn how to solder, make a functional circuit (FM transmitter), and test it with a radio receiver. Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering. Cost: $465

Disaster Preparedness initiative 

MyPI Disaster Preparedness Initiative is a Federal Emergency Management Agency national certified curriculum. Preparedness planning equips individuals to prepare for, respond to, and cope with disruptions and potential hazards following a disaster. It also enhances the ability to reduce emergency needs and manage existing resources until professional assistance becomes available. Campers attending MyPI will become CPR and First Aid certified, learn to build a family disaster kit which attendees will take home and add to the kit. Upon completion of the program requirements, you'll receive a fully-equipped emergency response back pack and the course Community Emergency Response Team Training Manual. Department: Illinois Extension, College of ACES. Cost: $400.

A Journey from Farm to Table: Behind the Scene of Restaurants

This program will explore the path of food from growing, processing, and production. Participants will be given the hands-on opportunity to get involved in each step, culminating with participants creating a new recipe in a Chopped-liked competition. Department: Food Science and Human Nutrition, College of ACES. Cost: $290.

Human Development and Family Studies

Can science help you learn more about yourself? Can it help you grow as a person? YES! This academy introduces you to the scientific study of youth and families. Learn more about your relationships with friends and parents. What about romantic relationships? Can science tell you anything about what you will argue about most or how you can cope with stress? As part of this academy, you will meet current Uof I students in HDFS, discover more about yourself, and learn about careers focused on working with other people. There's a lot to discover! Department: Human Development and Family Studies, College of ACES. Cost: $275.

Game Design: Digital Art, STorytelling, and Fabrication.

Dive into the CU Community Fab Lab to learn how game design works. This camp introduces participants to (1) rapid fabrication tools in the lab for board game design, (2) game-driven cultural production with cosplay and costuming and (3) using videogames like Minecraft, Spore and RPG Maker VX as narrative and mechanic design and as well as learning tools for enabling computational thinking strategies. By the end of the camp scholars will have (1) created a modified board game prototype, (2) made game-related fan art and (3) coded the beginning of a functional RPG (story-based) computer game. Youth must have a working knowledge of computers. Department: Illinois Informatics Institute. Cost: $315.

Molecular and Cellular Biology 

Do you sometimes wonder how living things work, what is a cell and how it functions, or what are genes and what do they do? By asking these questions, you are inquiring about the fundamental cellular processes that are at work in every one of us… and starting on the same path as researchers in Biological Sciences and Medicine. Join the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology to fulfill your curiosity and start exploring the marvelous complexities and inner workings of the cell. Participants will manipulate cells and their building blocks using modern research laboratory techniques while learning about the latest scientific discoveries that allow MCB researchers to discover answers to the above questions. Participants will also have the opportunity to tour a research laboratory and meet the scientists. We will spend time working on:

  • The effects of UV light on a bacterial population
  • How to insert a gene of interest into a population of bacteria
  • How to extract their own DNA
  • Blood Typing
  • PCR and DNA Typing
  • The physiology of the circulatory system
  • The eukaryotic cell
  • Enzyme Biochemistry

School: Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Cost: $365.

Sustainable Summer 

Do you have a passion for sustainability or conservation? Would you be interested in learning field techniques and strategies by professionals in this field of study? Do you like hands on experience working with wildlife and nature? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, we are the program for you. Come explore the natural environments surrounding the University of Illinois and learn how to best preserve these amazing habitats. Disclaimer: You will get wet, you will get dirty, you will have the time of your life! Department: Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Cost: $240.

Veterinary Medicine

Are you interested in animals, medicine, and science? Do you like helping people? Do you like unraveling mysteries? Do you like real challenges? If you answered yes to these questions, then the wide world of veterinary medicine just may be for you. Veterinarians have a strong interest and ability in science. They enjoy working with people as well as with animals. Take a step into the world of veterinary medicine and see what veterinary school is like, learn about the different aspects of veterinary medicine, and more. Participants in the veterinary medicine academy will learn about the science of veterinary medicine, anatomy, immunology, bacteriology, parasitology, wildlife medicine, large and small animal medicine, and more. Participants will participate in clinical equine rounds, streak and read bacteriology slides, learn about veterinary specialty fields and so much more. Youth must have completed 10th grade prior to the conference. College of Veterinary Medicine. Cost: $355.

Honeybees and Beekeeping

Learn the parts of a hive and how to put one together. You will put on suits and veils and join a beekeeper to see how the bees work in the hive to make more bees, store food and survive the winter. You will learn how to help the honeybees be healthy. The bees are critical for pollinating some of our specialty crops and helping us have a good food supply. You can learn some best management practices to preserve and add to their foraging habitats. Learn how to help them so they can continue to help us. Department: Entomology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Cost: $315.


Participants who cancel their registration must contact the State 4-H office @ illini-4H@illinois.edu. Requests received before April 1 will receive a full refund. Requests received from April 1 to May 1 will receive a 50% refund. No refunds will be permitted after May 1. This policy applies to counties paying registration fees for participants as well. 

Volunteers & Chaperones

Chaperones are needed to assist with youth engagement and supervision during specific times during the week. Chaperones WILL NOT have responsibilities from 11 PM to 7:30 AM. Interested adults should CLICK HERE to apply. There is no fee to chaperone. Costs are covered by the Illinois 4-H Foundation. Chaperones will be needed:

  • Sunday, June 23: 1 PM – 11 PM
  • Monday, June 24: 7:30 AM – 9 AM, 10:30 – 11:30, 1-4:30 PM, 7-11 PM
  • Tuesday, June 25: 7:30 AM – 9 AM, 7-11 PM,
  • Wednesday, June 26: 7:30 AM – 9 AM, 7-11 PM
  • Thursday, June 27: 7:30 AM – 9 AM, 7-11 PM
  • Friday, June 28: 7:30 AM –11:30 AM, 11:30 AM - 4:30 PM, 4:30 PM - 11 PM
  • Saturday, June 29: 7:30 AM - 11 AM


Illini Summer Academies is open to any Illinois youth who will be at least 14 years of age and not yet 19 by Sept. 1, 2019 AND has completed eighth grade by the time of the conference. This is a live-in conference, and youth stay in college dorms throughout the conference. Youth are not allowed to commute in for daytime activities.

Required Document


The Illinois 4-H Foundation offers scholarships to assist youth in attending Illini Summer Academies. DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION. We offer the Trail Blazers Scholarship to make college exploratory experiences accessible to all youth by encouraging participation of scholars who are under-represented in certain career fields and who may find the cost of attendance to exploratory programs a significant challenge. 

This scholarship is available to scholars who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • The scholar is a member of a group that is under-represented in the industry of their chosen academy such as women who are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields and men who are under-represented in Human development fields
  • The scholar would be the first among their immediate family members to earn a degree from a 4-year college or university
  • The scholar can demonstrate financial need based on household income and the number of members in the household.

Contact for More Information:

University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist
Alvarez Dixon
Event Manager
Carla Blue
Photo of Boy in lab

Event Information

Jun 23, 2019 to Jun 29, 2019
Bousfield Hall
1214 South First Street
Cost varies with your selection of Academy. You will be required to make full payment at the time of registration.

Registration Deadline:

May 01, 2019

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