Imagine digging at an archeological site, opening a honeybee hive, or performing African dance. For some Illinois teens, imagination will turn to reality during Illini Summer Academies, set to begin June 24 on the University of Illinois campus.

The event, sponsored by U of I Extension 4-H, brings more than 300 teens to campus to work in 17 different academic fields of study with elite university professors and graduate students. During the day, teens do what college students do, such as conduct experiments in some of the campus’ hundreds of labs. Some academies tour industry job sites to see research in action. During the evening, teens explore campus, stay in college dorms, enjoy the campus recreation areas, and order late-night pizza.

“This conference shows youth what is possible through higher education in their field of interest,” said Alvarez Dixon, U of I Extension 4-H youth development specialist. “Illinois 4-H shares their passion to learn, explore, and dream without limits.”

This year, participants may choose from the following academies of study: aerospace engineering, African dance and theater, agricultural communication, animal science, anthropology, beekeeping, companion animal nutrition, electrical and computer engineering, game design and fabrication, health sciences and sports, human development and family studies, advanced family studies, molecular and cellular biology, advanced microbiology, plant biology, theater fashion, and veterinary medicine.

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“Illini Summer Academies promotes career opportunities while showcasing U of I as the college of choice to teens in Illinois,” Dixon said. In addition to academy studies for youth, families can tour the campus Dixon said.

Registrations for the event is at an all-time high. Illinois 4-H has offered a summer teen leadership program for more than 50 years. Cost varies depending on the academy selected. The conference runs through June 28. One may get information and register online at Limited scholarships are available.

The conference is supported financially by the Illinois 4-H Foundation, which provided scholarships to delegates and covered the expenses related to chaperoning the conference. If interested please contact Martha Ebbesmeyer at 815-244-9444, local scholarships are available for Carroll, Lee and Whiteside counties.

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