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Representative Darin LaHood

Representing the 18th District of Illinois


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Apply for an Internship

Washington, DC

In the Washington, DC office, internships run throughout the fall, spring or summer semesters for college students. Although all internships in all offices are unpaid, students gain invaluable work experience. The hours are flexible to accommodate students' hectic course schedules, but generally run 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. when Congress is in session, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. when not in session.

In Washington, DC, interns' responsibilities will vary. They will be asked to answer phones, run errands, research legislation for the Member and legislative staff, attend hearings and briefings and answer constituent letters on various issues before the House. As a result, interns learn about the legislative process and the many other functions of a congressional office.


In the District office, interns may be asked to do a variety of things, including day-to-day office work such as answering phones, writing letters and assisting with media clips. In addition, interns may be assigned to assist in various constituent case work or work on District-based projects of importance.

To apply for an internship, please fill out this form.

Congressional Art Competition

Each spring, a nation-wide high school arts competition is sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Artistic Discovery Contest is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent in the nation, as well as in our congressional district. The winner from each congressional district is invited to the United States Capitol to be recognized for their artwork.

The Artistic Discovery Contest is open to all high school students in the 18th District. The overall winner of our district's competition will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. The exhibit in Washington will also include artwork from other contest winners nationwide.

Artwork must be two-dimensional. Each framed artwork can be no larger than 26 inches high, 26 inches wide, and 4 inches deep (framed). If your artwork is selected as the winning piece, it must arrive in Washington, DC, framed. No framed piece should weigh more than 15 pounds.

Accepted mediums for the two-dimensional artwork are as follows:

  • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc.
  • Drawings: colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal (It is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed.)
  • Collages: must be two dimensional
  • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints
  • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc.
  • Computer-generated art
  • Photographs
  • All entries must be an original in concept, design, and execution.

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, over 650,000 high school students have been involved with the nationwide competition.

Important Deadlines for the 2020 Art Competition:

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Rep. LaHood’s office set up an email address for students to send their artwork submissions too. Students are asked to fill out the Art Competition form on Rep. LaHood’s website HERE and email that form and a picture of their artwork to

Submissions are due by Friday, May 8th at 5:00 p.m.

If you have questions about the submission process, please contact the Peoria District Office at (309) 671-7027 or at

Required Forms:

Apply for a Service Academy Nomination

Thank you for your interest in the U.S. Military Service Academies. As your 18th District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, each year I will have the privilege of nominating a limited number of people to four of the five service academies (U.S. Coast Guard Academy does not require a nomination). The honor of attending a service academy comes with an obligation and commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation. Best wishes to you as you pursue your goal of attending one of the U.S. Service Academies and serving our country.

Each spring, my office will host a Service Academy Night for junior high and high school students, their parents, and high school counselors to discover the educational and career opportunities available at the U.S. Military Service Academies. Service Academy Nights are held to allow students within the 18th Congressional District of Illinois to discuss and learn the requirements and procedures for seeking a nomination to the academies.

Please be advised. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we have postponed Service Academy Nights indefinitely. We will provide update as soon as restrictions placed on gatherings and other events are lifted.  If you have questions, please contact my Military Affairs Advisor, Michael Gilmore. He can be reached by telephone at (309) 671-7027 or by email at

About the Service Academies and Nomination Process

To be considered for an appointment to a service academy, an applicant must meet the eligibility requirements established by law and be nominated from an authorized person including a Member of the United States Senate or the House of Representatives. As your Congressman, I may nominate applicants who are legally domiciled within the boundaries of Illinois’ 18th Congressional District. There are five Military Service Academies.

Three reside within the Department of Defense:

  • the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), located in Colorado Springs, CO
  • the United States Naval Academy (USNA), located in Annapolis, MD
  • the United States Military Academy (USMA), located in West Point, NY

One resides within the Department of Homeland Security:

  • the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), located in New London, CT

One resides within the Department of Transportation:

  • the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), located in Kings Point, NY

Each Representative and each Senator is allowed to have five students charged to him/her at USAFA, USMA, USNA, or USMMA at any one time. For each vacancy the Congressman or Senator can submit 10 names. The ten nominations may be made on a strictly competitive basis. The competitive method provides that the nominees compete among themselves for final appointment determined by the admissions authorities. They take into consideration a nominee's academic record, extracurricular and athletic activities, physical aptitude, ACT and/or SAT scores, leadership ability, and medical qualifications. Such facets of an applicant's record are also considered during the nomination selection process. No person will be offered admission if he or she does not meet the physical standards of the Academy unless awarded a medical waiver.

In the spring of your junior year of high school, you should begin the application process with the academy of your choice and, if applicable, submit your request for a congressional service academy nomination to my Peoria District office and to the offices of Illinois’ U.S. Senators. It is advisable to apply to all three sources, as well as to the Vice President of the United States, in order to maximize your chances of receiving a nomination. The other nomination categories are military-affiliated.

Plan to take both the SAT and ACT during your junior year. Each of these tests has a slightly different emphasis, so it is advisable to take both tests to see which one measures your educational background more favorably. Then, if you feel you may improve on your previous scores by retaking the test, it may be possible to do so prior to the deadline for application. As competition for nomination and appointment is very keen, it is wise for all interested persons to apply through all sources for which they are eligible and for all Academies in which they have a real interest. An individual may be nominated by more than one nominating authority and/or to more than one Academy.

Seeking a Nomination: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a nomination?

Members of Congress may nominate applicants who meet the eligibility requirements established by law. A candidate may seek a nomination from the following:

  • A member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represents the congressional district in which the candidate resides
  • Both U.S. Senators from his or her state
  • Apply directly to the Vice-President of the United States

What are the basic eligibility requirements?

Each applicant for a nomination must meet the following eligibility requirements as of July 1st of the year of admission to an academy:

  • Age: Be at least 17 years old, but not have passed the 23rd birthday
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Marital Status: Must be unmarried, not pregnant, and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents
  • Residence: Must reside within the boundaries of the 18th District of Illinois.
  • Skill / Fitness: Must meet the medical, physical, and academic requirements of the Academy.

Who do I contact to request an application?

Please contact my Academy Nomination Coordinator, Michael Gilmore in my Peoria District Office by telephone at (309) 671-7027 or by email at to request a nomination packet.

When do I apply for a nomination?

My nomination application period opens the first week of May each year. The application period is open to those candidates who are high school juniors and will be seniors the following school year, or who have already graduated but haven’t reached their 23rd birthday.

What is the deadline for completing a nomination application packet?

Applications are due in the Peoria District Office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 13, 2020. Applications received after that date and time will not be accepted for the class entering an academy in 2020.

What must be included in my nomination application packet?

A complete nomination packet consists of the following items:

  • Congressional Nomination Application
  • Current photo
  • Most recent high school transcript (include college transcript, if applicable)
  • American College Testing Program (ACT) results and/or College Board Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores
  • Resume of athletic participation and extracurricular activities
  • An essay stating why you want to attend a service academy (no less than 150 words)
  • At least four letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, employers, coaches, clergy, scout leaders, etc. Letters should include a return address, phone number and email.

What happens after I have completed my nomination packet?

Applicants who submit a completed nomination packet will be scheduled for an interview with my Academy Review Board in early December.

Criteria used in selecting applicants for a nomination?

Nominations are based on a "whole person" evaluation. Factors such as academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, leadership skills, physical aptitude, character, and motivation are taken into consideration and compared with other applicants.

I utilize an Academy Review Board chaired by Michael Gilmore. Michael and the board will review all applications to determine which candidates will be interviewed. Interviews are held in early December and I will announce my 18th Congressional District nominations no later than January 31st each year.

Are the requirements the same for all of the service academies?

No. Although many of the qualifications are similar, each academy operates under its own admissions guidelines. Visit the academy of your choice via the web sites noted for each academy's particular admissions qualifications. It is not necessary to seek a nomination to the United States Coast Guard Academy, as the U.S.C.G.A. accepts candidates based on their own testing criteria.

Who should I ask to write a letter of recommendation on my behalf?

Some of the people applicants typically seek recommendations from include:

  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Employers
  • Coaches
  • Clergy
  • Scout Leaders

Note: I do not require a specific recommendation form. A letter of recommendation is sufficient.

Will I automatically be selected by the academy after I receive a nomination?

No. You will be placed among a select group of nominees, and the academy of your choice will make the final decision. If selected, you will receive an Offer of Appointment (admission) directly from the academy.

What if I choose more than one academy? Will I be limited to a single nomination?

No. You can be nominated to multiple academies depending on how well you have competed among this year's pool of candidates. It is also possible to be offered multiple appointments.

When will I know if I have been offered an appointment by an academy?

Academies will begin to notify candidates of their admission status in February. All offers of appointment are generally sent out by May.