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Virginia Space Flight Academy selected for Spirit of Virginia award

First Lady Suzanne S Youngkin
First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin delivers remarks at Virginia Space Flight Academy on Wallops Island, on July 28. Photo by Shealah Craighead Photography.

The Virginia Space Flight Academy was selected for the Spirit of Virginia Award from Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin.

The Virginia Space Flight Academy is an education nonprofit who partners with NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility and furthers youth STEM instruction through afterschool programming and summer camps.

“Training young Virginians to ‘shoot for the stars’ is happening right here at the Virginia Space Flight Academy,” said the First Lady. “The Commonwealth, through the Virginia Spaceport Authority, owns and operates one of only four sites in the U.S. that is licensed for vertical launches, and today we celebrate the Academy’s decades-long dedication to NASA-inspired, education and imagination.”

Virginia Space Flight Academy was established in 1988 on Wallops Island. Since its founding, the Academy has encouraged more than 6,000 students to pursue space and STEM careers through their summer space adventure camps and year-round classroom programming. Historically, over half of students attending the programs have been residents of Virginia.

“Virginia Space Flight Academy is honored and privileged to be a recipient of the Spirit of Virginia Award,” said Kim Check, Executive Director of Virginia Space Flight Academy. “This honor comes at a very special time for us as we celebrate 25 years in operation.

“We are excited about our potential for growth as we continue to provide students with hands-on, dynamic experiences centered around space flight exploration.”

The Academy has bolstered their program offerings through partnerships with national players in the space industry. They recently renewed their Space Act agreement with NASA for a five-year period, which allows campers behind-the-scenes access at NASA’s flight facilities on Wallops Island.

The Spirit of Virginia Award recognizes unique qualities and standout achievements across the Commonwealth and salutes Virginians for their uncommon contributions in private industries, education, culture, the arts and philanthropy.

Three more Spirit of Virginia Awards will be given this year.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.