Illini Summer Academies is a life-changing personal development experience on the University of Illinois campus. Participants from around Illinois attend academy sessions led by university professors and enjoy a variety of educational sessions that provide a taste of what is possible after high school. Redefine how you see your own potential and network with other youth leaders as you take advantage of this one-of-a-kind summer opportunity. 

ISA Preview: 

Learn more about the Illini Summer Academy event by hearing from past participants about their experiences. 

Illini Summer Academies (ISA) - June 23-27, 2024


How to make a Z-Suite account (so you can register for ISA):  If you have not already created an account on ZSuite, you can do so now so that when the application opens you are ready to go. See instructions on how to create a free account here: 

LOCATION: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Bousfield Hall, 1214 South First Street, Champaign, IL. 

DEADLINE TO REGISTER:  April 30, 2024, by 11:59 PM CST.

OPEN TO:  Youth entering 10th - 12th grade in Fall 2024; Registration is limited to the first 150 participants. Participants must have completed their first year of high school (9th grade) to participate.

COST: Varies by academy. The base cost is $400, plus an additional fee dependent upon the academy selected. The total cost for academies ranges from $400 - $550.  

  • Base fee covers 4 nights of lodging in a suite-style dorm room, all meals, an event t-shirt, and general event supplies. 
  • Academy fee covers all the expenses for the experiences and supplies needed during your sessions at your academy. Each academy provided different activities and experiences leading to the varying cost of academies.    


  1. Credit card. 
  2. My county is paying. Before participants can choose this option, 4-H members must contact their local Extension office to verify that their county will pay. Note that not every county has funds to assist with registration fees. Registration fees must be paid before attending the event. 

Check out our  ISA FAQ link for more information about what to bring, what to wear, and what to expect at ISA. 

  • Conference check-in on Sunday, June 23:  2:00 - 4:00 pm at Bousfield Hall.
  • Pick up on Thursday, June 27:  8:30 - 11:00 AM at Bousfield Hall.
  • Watch your email: Additional conference details will be sent to the email address provided on the ISA registration form approximately two weeks before the conference. 

CANCELATIONS & REFUNDS:  Refunds must be received in writing to Mark Becker: Requests received by April 30, 2024, by 5:00 pm will receive a refund minus a 5% processing fee. No refunds will be given after May 1, 2024. Counties are allowed to send a substitute of the same gender to this event, but must notify Mark Becker regarding the substitution.  

REQUIRED FORMS ARE ONLINE: The required Emergency Medical Form is incorporated into this online registration form. Other required forms (Risk Waiver and Overnight conduct form, Photo Media release form) can be completed during online registration. 


Chaperones must be fully screened volunteers. Those wanting to chaperone this event but are not screened should contact their local Extension office to begin that process as soon as possible due to the lengthy time to get screening results returned. If you are interested in becoming a chaperone, please sign up here: ISA 2024 Chaperone Sign Up 

* Accommodations: If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this event, please contact the event coordinator. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your needs. 


Deadline for scholarships: Participants who need financial assistance to attend should apply for scholarships by April 14, 2024, for consideration.  

  • Trailblazers Scholarship:  

Illinois 4-H offers the Trailblazers Scholarship to make college exploratory experiences accessible to all youth. This scholarship encourages the 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. If you have any questions please contact: Roxana Cejeda, Trailblazer Scholarship Coordinator- at 

A letter of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, or mentor that can speak to who you are, your goals and career interests, your connection with the person, and, how granting you this scholarship would be a good opportunity for you. The letter cannot be from a friend, family member/friend, or relative. Letters must be in PDF or Word format and emailed to Roxana Cejeda, Trailblazer Scholarship Coordinator, 

Eligibility: 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 underrepresented in the industry of their chosen academy such as men and women who are under-represented in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. 
  • The scholar would be a first-generation college student. 
  • The scholar must demonstrate financial need based on household income and the number of members in the household (provided by parent or guardian). 

How to apply: The Trailblazer Scholarship application will be an option that can be selected while filling out the ISA registration. Once the Trailblazer questions during registration are answered, the only item left is to have the letter of reference emailed to Roxana Cejeda, The deadline for the letter is April 14, 2024.  

Scholarships will be awarded on a first come, first served basis so apply as soon as possible! The good news is that while you wait to hear if you are awarded a Trailblazer scholarship, your spot in the academy you chose will be reserved for you. Those who are not awarded a scholarship will be contacted to pay for the registration fee.    

  • Digital Ag Academy and Harness the Power Academy Scholarships:  

For ISA participants registering for the Digital Agriculture Academy or the Harness the Power: Applications of New Tech to Improve Agriculture Academy, there are scholarship opportunities available to help support the next generation of farmers, scholars, and scientists taking on the challenges facing our food systems. These scholarships are made available with support from grant funding through the academy host’s research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  

How to apply for an agriculture scholarship: Visit this link and follow the instructions provided: ISA Ag Academies Scholarship Application 

2024 ISA Academies:

NOTE: There are limitations to the number of participants that can register within each academy. Once a specific academy fills up, we will close registration for that academy and you will have the option to select another Academy. It is recommended you have a plan B in case this occurs.

Business Academy -$400

Students will learn about various majors and careers in the business field, and get hands-on experience through interactive activities. Whether you're interested in starting your own business, building a brand, managing money, or working with technology--this academy will help you gain the exposure and knowledge needed to start considering a future in the business world.  

Related Careers: Accountant, Entrepreneur, Marketing manager/coordinator, Manager, Consultant, Portfolio/Wealth manager, Investment Banker, Data analysis (in business)

Host College Gies College of Business       Host Department Office of Undergraduate Affairs

Digital Agriculture Academy -$400 (Scholarship Available) ISA Ag Academies Scholarship Application 

This course is designed to introduce high school students to the basics of coding as it is applied in the context of digital agriculture, with a focus on crops and animal production. Students will learn how to interact with drones, robots, and microcontrollers, and engage in hands-on activities with examples applied to digital agriculture. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of coding and digital agriculture.
  • Apply their knowledge to real-world problems in the field of digital agriculture.
  • Use drones, robots, and microcontrollers to collect data and analyze it.
  • Develop solutions to digital agriculture problems using the skills they have learned.

Related Careers: Agriculture Data Scientist, Precision Agriculture Technician, Ag Robotics and Automation Technician, Bioinformatics Researcher, Computational Biologist, Web/Mobile Programmer, Drone Pilot, Educator

Host College: College of ACES      Host Department: Animal Sciences

Explore Sustainability - $425

Join the experts, researchers, and professors at the College of ACES (Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences) who are making the latest advances in environmental sustainability. This academy will include experiences in ecological engineering, environmental science and wildlife, sustainable agriculture, environmental economics & business, and food science. This diverse experience will give you a sampling of a wide variety of majors & careers that are all focused on the urgent need for sustainable solutions to the environmental and social challenges we face today.   

Related Careers: Conservation Biologist, Environmental Lawyer, Nutritionist, Environmental Engineer, Agriculture Professional, Environmental Justice Manager, Carbon Neutral Program Director, Corporate Sustainability Manager, Extension Specialist

Host College: College of ACES     Host Department: Natural Resource and Environmental Sciences (NRES)

 Harness the Power: Applications of New Tech to Improve Agriculture - $400 (Scholarships Available)ISA Ag Academies Scholarship Application 

Participants will explore advances in technology that are revolutionizing agriculture. Learn how machine vision, AI, and robotics can be used to improve crops. Participate in real research to improve popcorn and see how technologies in the laboratory and the field can help solve global food security challenges. Join us and be a part of our research team!  

Related Careers: Plant Scientist, Academic Researcher, Plant Breeder, Data Scientist, Ag / STEM Educator, Project Manager, Electrical and Computer Engineer, AI Developer, Machine Learning Developer

Host College: College of ACES      Host Department: Department of Crop Sciences

Health Innovation Academy - $430

The health professional of the future is going to be very different from traditional doctors and nurses. This academy will show the new job opportunities in healthcare systems that will be available to youth. Participants can plan a provide feedback for future ideas and work collaboratively to solve critical health problems in our world. 

Related Careers: Nursing, Patient Support, Hospital Support Services, Health Workforce Development, Clerical/Administration, Public Health, Pharmacy Technician, Health Educator, Hospital Social Worker, Health Care Provider, Care Coordinator, First Responder

Host College: Carle Illinois College of Medicine, College of ACES    Host Department: U of I Extension: Integrated Health Disparities

Honeybee Biology and Beekeeping - $477

Learn the biology and behaviors of honeybees and their colonies. Learn the hive equipment and tools. You will put together your own hive body. See how to set up a hive with a package of bees, see how bees work in the hive, store food, and raise the brood. Learn to manage your bees and to keep them healthy. The bees are critical for pollinating some of our specialty crops and helping us have a good food supply. Learn some best management practices to preserve/increase their foraging habitats. Discover how to help them so they can continue to help us.  

Related Careers: Honey Bee Research, Entomologist, Farmer (Vegetable and Specialty Crops), Beekeeper, Biologist, Orchardist, Horticulturist, Honey Producer, Traveling Pollinator Services 

Host College: Liberal Arts and Sciences; School of Integrated Biology      Host Department: Entomology

Molecular and Cellular Biology - $525

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 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. 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, The eukaryotic cell, and Enzyme Biochemistry. Delegates will also have the opportunity to tour a research laboratory, learn about the research being done, and meet the scientists.  

Related Careers: Molecular Biologist, Cellular Biologist, Research Specialist, Medical Fields, Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, Forensic Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Disease Control, Food Safety, Healthcare, Policy or Law, Agriculture, Wildlife Management 

Host College: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences      Host Department: Molecular and Cellular Biology

Narrative Design and Video Game Development with GDevelop - $550

Have you ever wanted to design and program your own video game? Come join us and learn some of the basics with GDevelop, an open-source game development software. Dip into some of the narrative, gameplay, and level design that goes into games. This academy will introduce you to both the theoretical and practical aspects of game development for role-playing games.  Prerequisite: Working computer knowledge, including basic keyboarding and mouse skills. 

Related Careers: Game Designer, Game Developer, Mobile App Designer, Special Effects Artist, Game Tester, Character/Level Designer, Game Writer, Game Audio Engineer, Multimedia Specialist

Host College: iSchool of Information Sciences       Host Department: Informatics - Game Studies and Design

Unlocking Your Leadership Potential - $490

Join our academy to explore your unique leadership style using the Illinois Model of Leadership. Get ready for a mix of hands-on workshops, exciting campus tours, and engaging panels featuring student affairs leaders across campus. Develop valuable skills in strengths-based approaches to work, time management, conflict resolution, empathy, and teamwork. Don't miss out on this empowering opportunity to step into your leadership potential!  

Related Careers: Medical Professional, Lawyer, Educator, Politician, Researcher/Scientist, Athlete/Coach, Armed Services, First Responder, Social Worker/Counselor

Host College: Student Affairs       Host Department: Illinois Leadership Center

Veterinary Medicine & Animal Sciences - $400

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 and animal sciences may be for you. Join us for an exciting, hands-on academy focusing on the many sciences related to the world of animals. We will cover various species, from farm animals to companion animals to wildlife, in multiple disciplines, from nutrition to reproduction. Learn about the world of animal sciences and the diverse career paths that animal scientists can take. 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. Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences Academy participants will learn about the science of veterinary medicine, anatomy, immunology, public health, wildlife medicine, large and small animal medicine, and guided tours of the UIUC animal production units.  Open to youth who have completed at least their 10th grade of high school by the time of the Academy. No repeat attendees

Related Careers: Veterinarian, Vet. Technician, Animal Caretaker, Animal Trainer, Public Health Advocate, Wildlife Manager, Marine Biologist, Animal Breeder, Kennel Manager, Researcher/Educator, Consultant

Host College: Veterinary Medicine and College of ACES     Host Department: Office of Online Programs and Extension, Animal Sciences

Work Hard, Play Hard - $400

Explore careers in health-related professions at this year's Work Hard Play Hard Academy. During our session, you will explore careers in health professions, physical education, speech-language pathology, and recreation, sport, and tourism. Our participants will take classes with faculty and staff with expertise in Applied Health Sciences as well as tour the UIUC campus and get hands-on experience with the diverse ways that an Applied Health Science career can put you at the center of the action. Whether you are interested in a career in sports, medicine, tourism/travel, or recreation, this is the Academy to get you started.  

Related Careers: Doctor, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Athletic Trainer, Physical Educator, Nurse, Dentist, Audiologist, Speech Language Pathologist, Sport Administrator, Park and Recreation Manager, Event Planner, Tourism Destination Marketer

Host College: College of Applied Health Sciences       Host Department: College of Applied Health Sciences 

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. University of Illinois, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Local Extension Councils Cooperating. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact the event coordinator. Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your needs

Highlights from ISA 2023:

ISA 2023 Agenda: Brochure

ISA 2023 Guidelines: Participant Overview

Contact for More Information:

Youth Development Specialist, University of Illinois Extension
Mark Becker
Events Coordinator
Carla Blue