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Illini Summer Academies Update  

With public health and safety as a pressing concern around the world right now, we have had to make some tough decisions. To ensure that we keep our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and to help our families and businesses return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so, University of Illinois Extension has made the decision to cancel all summer camps and conferences sponsored or hosted by the university through July 31. This decision applies to Illini Summer Academies. There are three major drivers behind this decision. 

  1. The safety and wellbeing of our participants is always our top priority—it always has been, and it always will be. In the COVID-19 era, there is an increased level of risk associated with bringing groups of kids together and we have an obligation to make decisions that prioritize their health and safety.

  2. Hosting an overnight conference requires time for planning and logistics and we are now inside the window where hosting these experiences would be logistically challenging, especially when factoring in the addition of new COVID-19 safety protocols.

  3. While we know participants will be disappointed, we want to give you the opportunity to make plans for the duration of the summer.

We do not know when it will be safe to resume in-person activities and we do not know what the path of returning to “normal” will look like when the state of Illinois lifts the stay-at-home order. Like you, please know that our staff are also disappointed that the conference will not be held this year. We look forward to these events just as much as you do! Meanwhile, Illinois 4-H remains committed to providing positive youth development experiences during this critical time.

 Illini Summer Academies

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. Space for each academy is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Many academies reach capacity before the registration closes.

2020 Academy Sessions

Participants should choose one academy of interest to study throughout the week. Registration cost includes an event registration fee + academy session fee. The cost for each academy session is different, so your cost will vary from group to group. The cost includes lodging in college dorms; organized recreational activities; commemorative t-shirt, bag and water bottle; and all breakfast and evening meals. Participants will purchase noon meals on their own.

aerospace engineering

How do aircraft fly and spacecraft orbit? That question and others will be addressed in this hands-on Aerospace Engineering session. 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. Department: Aerospace Engineering College: College of Engineering  Cost: $540

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: $510

Agricultural Leadership and Communication

TBD. Department: Ag Leadership, Education, and Communication. College: Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. TBD

Animal Sciences

Join us for a week of hands-on experiences with animals. We will cover a wide variety of different species from farm animals to companion animals, learning about everything from anatomy to nutrition. There is no doubt you will get your hands dirty! Department: Animal Sciences. College: Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences. Cost: $420.


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: Liberal Arts and Sciences. Cost: $360

Chemistry Around Us

Things that happen around us in daily life involves interesting chemical reactions. We’ll investigate the wonderful and mysterious chemical reactions that surround us daily. Join us and see the wonders of chemistry! Department: Chemistry. College: Liberal Arts and Sciences. Cost: $330.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Learn 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, how to use control theory to make machines do what we want, understanding how the power grid operates, and understanding how basic circuits and optical elements work. As a team, we’ll have hands-on experience 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 & Computer Engineering. College: Engineering. Cost: $535.

Game Design: Storytelling and Fabrication

Dive into the CU Community Fab Lab to learn how game design works. This camp introduces participants to rapid fabrication tools in the lab for board game design and using video game engines like RPG Maker MV 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 created a modified board game prototype and coded the beginning of a functional RPG (story-based) computer game. Champaign-Urbana Fab LabCost: $385.

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 U of 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: Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Cost: $345.

FOOD SCIENCE: from Farm to Table

This program will explore the path of food from growing, processing, and production. Get involved in each step of hospitality management and food science industry. By the end of the week, you’ll each create a new recipe. Department: Food Science and Human Nutrition. College: Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences. Cost $410.

Meat Judging & Evaluation ANIMAL SCIENCE

Develop the skills to become a successful meat judge. Learn the concepts of evaluating beef, pork, lamb, and processed meat products. Gain experience in seeing every possible class and invaluable knowledge in note taking to answer product-related questions. Department: Animal Sciences. College: Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences. Cost: $360.

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 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. College: Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Cost: $360.

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Do you sometimes wonder "how do living things work, what is a cell and how does it function, 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. Delegates will have the opportunity to tour a research laboratory, learn about the research being done, and meet the scientists.  Delegates 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. School: Molecular & Cellular Biology. College: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Cost: $435.

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

Veterinary Medicine

Open to youth who have completed at least their 10th grade of high school by the time of the conference.Are you interested in animals, medicine, ER 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 such as dentistry, ophthalmology, and forensic pathology, and so much more. Graduate College: Veterinary Medicine. Cost: $425.

APPLIED HEALTH: Work Hard, Play Hard

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. College: Applied Health Sciences. Cost: $330.

Check in and Release Times

Check in runs from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 21. Check out runs from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, June 26.

What to Bring & Frequently Asked Questions

To answer most of your questions about Illini Summer Academies (ISA) click on the FAQ link. Here you will find what a typical day at ISA looks like, what kind of activites we do in the evenings, what items to bring, what to wear, as well as several other questions that we frequently answer. FAQ LINK


Registration opening is pending. 

Required Document

All participants are required to complete and submit required medical forms in order to attend. Required Forms


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, 2020 AND has completed 8th 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.


The Illinois 4-H Foundation offers scholarships to assist youth in attending Illini Summer Academies. Trail Blazers Scholarships of $310 are provided 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. Depending on the cost of the academy you choose, you will be required to pay the balance of the fee when applying.  Due to COVID-19 the scholarship application is closed along with the general event registration and will reopen when the event registration opens. Currently there is no scheduled date for reopening registration so please check this website frequently for updates.

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 21, 2020 to Jun 26, 2020
Weston Hall
204 E. Peabody Drive
CANCELLED FOR 2020. Cost varies with your selection of Academy. You will be required to make full payment at the time of registration.