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CHAMPAIGN -- Imagine getting a behind-the-scenes look at the animals at Lincoln Park Zoo, opening a beehive, or work in multi-million-dollar laboratories. For some Illinois teens, imagination will turn to reality during Illini Summer Academies, set to begin June 23 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 16 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 the campus 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, agricultural communication, agricultural mechanization, animal science, beekeeping, companion and exotic animal science, crop science, disaster preparedness, food systems and restaurants, electrical and computer engineering, game design and fabrication, health sciences and sports, human development and family studies, molecular and cellular biology, natural resources, and veterinary medicine.

“Illini Summer Academies promotes career opportunities while showcasing U of I as the college of choice to teens in Illinois,” Dixon said.

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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 29. One may get information and register online at go.illinois.edu/illini4H. Registration closes May 1, though some academies may fill prior to the close of registration.

Limited scholarships are available, and applications are available at the registration site.

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.

Illinois 4-H helps youth learn skills for living. The University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois. Illinois 4-H impacts the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term programming.

For further information contact: Alvarez Dixon, U of I Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist, 217-333-0910.

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