Support for Local Air Service Grows with Creation of Community Air Service Task Force

It has been an incredible three years for Shenandoah Valley Airport (SHD). After announcing their non-stop United Express jet service powered by SkyWest in April 2018, SHD experienced record passenger numbers, added additional flights in the fall of 2018 as a result of the passenger increase, and was endorsed as the Official Airport of James Madison University (JMU) in December of 2019.

A critical driver behind these efforts is the work of the SHD Air Service Task Force launched by JMU. Chaired by Dr. Nick Swartz, Associate Dean of Professional and Continuing Education, Task Force Ambassadors work with many JMU programs and departments in addition to tourism, economic development and local higher education partners. Task Force Members represent Blue Ridge Community College, City of Harrisonburg, Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, James Madison University, Lantz Construction, Rockingham County, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, Shenandoah Valley Partnership and Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.

“I’m proud to join fellow SHD Ambassadors in leading the conversation in our communities on the importance and convenience of flying local. SHD provides connections to major markets for business and leisure travel and is instrumental in regional economic development efforts. As focus grows on attracting and retaining talent, offering seamless connectivity to the rest of the world is a nonnegotiable. Together, we can fuel the Shenandoah Valley economy and grow SHD airline services when we choose to fly local,” said Task Force member Cari Orebaugh, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Shenandoah Valley Partnership.

Task Force Members have focused their efforts on increasing awareness of local air service with one common message: incorporating SHD into your travel plans is critical for positive economic development efforts and enhanced quality of life. As Peirce Macgill, Assistant Director of Economic Development for the City of Harrisonburg and Task Force Member, states “In economic development, transportation and quality of life are two key metrics in attracting new businesses. This makes the success of SHD critical in growing our economy. Most businesses we seek to attract to the Valley require reliable and quality air transportation options, both for business and leisure.”

The airline industry as a whole has been greatly impacted in the past year by the pandemic, making the efforts of the task force and community support even more critical as regions such as the Shenandoah Valley work to maintain current levels of air service and demonstrate local demand as passengers return to flying. In response to this new challenge, the SHD Air Service Task Force has worked diligently over the past few months to identify local community members to join their efforts as ambassadors of local air service. This group is made up of approximately 80 representatives across the region in business and industry; higher education; health care; economic development; hospitality/tourism/special events; and the travel sector. On April 20 the SHD Ambassadors kicked off their first meeting with a presentation from Michael Mooney, Managing Partner with Volaire Aviation. Mr. Mooney spoke on the current state of the airline industry, the value of the United service in the Valley and the unique opportunities the pandemic has created for airports like SHD as travelers begin to return to air travel. “Airlines will put added flights where they see passenger demand. Shenandoah has a wonderful opportunity in the coming years to see expanded air service. It all starts with using the local service as often as possible now,” he remarked.

Moving forward SHD Ambassadors have committed to promoting the value of local air service to their personal and professional networks, as well as staying up to date on any developments through regular quarterly meetings.

“The overall work of the SHD Air Service Task Force highlights the collaborative spirit and nature that exists within the Shenandoah Valley,” said Dr. Swartz. “The unique partnership between JMU and SHD is an excellent example of JMU’s involvement in helping promote and facilitate economic development efforts on behalf of our entire region and Commonwealth. We’ve made great progress over the last 2 years but in order to become more competitive, the work of the new SHD Ambassadors is absolutely essential.”

Nick Swartz, Ph.D., SHD Air Service Task Force Chair
(540) 568-5272 

2021 STEM and Tech Summer Activities in the Shenandoah Valley

Looking for 2021 STEM and tech summer activities? Then look no further! We know that both parents and kids are ready for some summer fun after a long year of staying at home, so we’ve gathered a listing of local tech activities for kids for the summer of 2021! Ranging from workshops to camps, this summer is full of technology and STEM activities. Browse the links below and/or share the list with others! See details below.

Summer Camps by JMU Professional & Continuing Education | In-Person
James Madison University, Harrisonburg

Summer Explorer Camps | In-Person
Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg

Learning Can Be Fun Program | Online
Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave

BRCC Intro to Advanced Manufacturing | (FREE)
Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave

Summer Camps by Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum | In-Person
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, Winchester

STEM Summer Camps by STEM Innovators | In-Person
Easely Created Studio, Winchester

Summer Spark ’21 by St. Anne’s Belfield School CS | In-Person or Online
St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Charlottesville

If there are additional youth 2021 STEM and tech summer activities that are not on this list, we’d be more than happy to publicize them in our newsletter as long as they are located within the Shenandoah Valley. Email your summer activity, camp, or workshop information to

Seeking Volunteers for ENTIRELY ONLINE Harrisonburg FIRST LEGO League Tournament

Seeking Volunteers for ENTIRELY ONLINE Harrisonburg FIRST LEGO League Tournament!

Saturday, February 6 | 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

FIRST Lego league logo horizontal  


The Harrisonburg FIRST LEGO League Regional tournament is in need of volunteers to referee and judge for the upcoming competition on Saturday, February 6th. This year the competition will be entirely online; teams will be sending in videos and meeting virtually with judges to compete to go to the Championship event. In order to help this event run smoothly, we need a number of people to help volunteer to ref and judge the day of the event, ~8:30am-3:30pm. If you are interested in volunteering for this event, please follow the following instructions by Friday, January 15th. If you have any questions about volunteering, please email Emily Winter at

Sign up to Volunteer for the virtual Harrisonburg FLL Tournament

  1. Go to
  2. Click “Sign Up to Volunteer at a Tournament”
  3. Select VA in the Region/Country dropdown
  4. Locate VA/DC FLL RePLAY Regional Qualifier 5 (Harrisonburg) and click “Volunteer”
  5. Fill out form and click “Submit”
  6. Complete Online Consent Form
    1. Go to
    2. Fill out registration form or login
    3. Go to Dashboard
    4. Go to Volunteer Registration
    5. Click on Event Volunteering
    6. Search for Harrisonburg Regional Qualifier
    7. Fill out form
    8. Begin Youth Protection Screening

SVTC Offering Start-Up Grants for FIRST LEGO League Teams

Looking for a grant to help start up your FLL team? Each year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council sponsors up to three new FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams from the Shenandoah Valley. Approximately half of the start-up cost of a new team is reimbursed, up to $350.

To be eligible, teams must be located in the footprint of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s area of operation. Applicants must also intend participate in the FLL competition within one year of receiving the grant. This grant can be used towards any equipment required for competition in FIRST LEGO League, including one or more LEGO robotics kits, a competition practice table, and an FLL field setup kit.

If you are interested in applying for the FLL Start-Up Grant, start on our FLL page and fill out, and send, the PDF linked on that page. Information and application for FLL Startup Grant

About FIRST LEGO League (FLL),
FLL was created through a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the LEGO company and inspires future scientists and engineers. it is an international competition that challenges young participants to think like scientists and engineers. Every year FLL introduces kids to a real-world scientific topic, and teams are challenged to find a solution. They also build a robot and compete in a friendly, FIRST-style robotics event specially designed for their age group.

This year’s challenge, called Replay:

About the local / Virginia league: Your state and local -Virginia and Shen. Valley- connection to FLL is VA-DC FLL (, located in Harrisonburg. Virginia is one of the largest leagues in the world with over 600 teams. Start a conversation with Kaitlin and crew and see how you can get involved, right here in the Shen. Valley. (

Science and technology leaders are made, not born.

Virginia Technology Councils’ 2021 Policy Agenda

The Virginia Technology Councils’ 2021 Policy Agenda is a collaborative summary statement created by the tech councils in Virginia in December 2020

Education & Workforce Development
In order for Virginia’s businesses to grow and thrive, they need well-trained and highly skilled employees. In the technology industry, Virginia continues to experience a shortage of trained workers.  Virginia’s Tech Councils support the following efforts to increase our workforce:

  • Funding for G3: ‘Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back’
    • G3 will make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields such as information technology. It will provide financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions, as well as wraparound assistance for students at the lowest income levels.
  • Funding for Fast Forward
    • FastForward is a short-term workforce training program through the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to train Virginians for industry credentials and certifications for the most in-demand jobs across the Commonwealth.
  • Funding for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Talent Accelerator Program and Virginia Jobs Investment Program
    • Additional funding for two worker training programs at VEDP was unallotted during the 2020 session. Over the last five fiscal years, Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) has assisted nearly 75 companies in the technology industry, creating over 13,000 jobs and almost $300 million in capital investment. The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, launched in 2019, accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture.
  • State Review of Implementation of Computer Science Education
    • A comprehensive review of the ongoing implementation of mandatory computer science standards as well as alignment of course pathways, including implementation best practices and opportunities for enhanced collaboration with stakeholders.

IT Procurement
The Commonwealth is home to a vibrant industry of technology companies employing thousands of Virginians. Many of these technology companies offer high-value, innovative solutions increasing access to and improving the efficiency of our state government. Virginia’s Tech Councils support

  • Policies to ensure that the Commonwealth’s procurement process is open, transparent and promote a culture of creativity and competition.
  • In these uncertain times, use available resources to fund much needed one-time expenses including procuring upgrades to several long-deferred information technology systems and modernizing public agencies and networks to better communicate and adapt to a rapidly changing work environment.
  • Keeping burdensome taxes and regulations to a minimum, especially as additional costs ultimately get passed back to the Commonwealth in the form of higher priced procurement.

Innovation and Economic Development
Virginia has made great strides in laying the foundation for long term growth of our technology industry including restructuring our state level programs and creating the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA).  Additionally, significant investments in education and workforce development continue to increase our potential for growth.  Virginia’s Tech Councils support the following efforts to strengthen our efforts to grow and recruit Virginia-based IT businesses:

  • Increase funding for the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority
    • The VIPA Regional Investment Fund was established through legislation but not funded during the 2020 session. This program will help businesses grow and thrive by building critical ecosystems in all regions of the Commonwealth and provide support in areas where programs like GO Virginia are unable to help.
  • Increase flexibility for GO Virginia and VEDP Grants for businesses implementing remote work
    • Additional flexibility is needed for businesses seeking existing economic development grants and assistance, but whose capital investment is limited due to significant remote work. Allowing more flexibility in a rapidly changing office environment would increase our ability to grow businesses and create jobs in changing business models across Virginia.
  • Expand and Diversify Key Technology Sectors
    • The Commonwealth is home to several key existing and emerging technologies and our agencies and resources should be utilized to help these sectors expand and diversify. In recent years, policymakers have worked diligently to support many of these areas including Unmanned Systems (land, sea, air), Cybersecurity, Smart Communities, Extended/Virtual/Augmented Reality, Biomedical, and Renewable Energy Technologies.
  • Data Centers
    • Support maintaining Virginia’s competitive position as a global leader in the data center market by protecting the existing data center investment incentives. As our communities rely more heavily on work from home and virtual education, these data centers are what make it all possible.

Broadband Access
Universal access to affordable broadband is essential to every Virginian in order to compete in today’s global economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made high-speed internet even more critical.  Virginia’s Tech Councils support ongoing efforts to fund broadband deployment in all corners of the Commonwealth and reduce red tape and barriers that make deployment more difficult.

Shenandoah Valley Business Resources

We all know that Shenandoah Valley businesses and potential startups have been affecting during this time. Below, you can find information about two programs that provide access to resources for both startup companies and growing businesses.

Small Business Resiliency Team (SBRT) Program:

The SBRT is funded by a GO Virginia grant with the goal of providing expanded business support services and technical assistance to area businesses in the wake of COVID-19 challenges. The program will deploy Business Resiliency Navigators to guide growth-oriented businesses through a dedicated and well-designed process for achieving incremental and sustainable growth throughout the pandemic recovery period.

How does the SBRT program work?

  • You will receive personalized service from your SBRT Navigator* as they develop an Action Plan specifically designed to help you reach your goals.
  • Your Navigator will identify and invite Experts in appropriate fields to add information and help you implement the steps from your Plan.
  • They will also provide tools and other resources to assist you and introduce local service providers for specialized tasks.
  • The SBRT program costs you nothing until you may decide to engage one of the local providers to continue working for you to implement needed tasks.

More information at

Startup Shenandoah Valley:

Startup Shenandoah Valley is a hybrid program that combines the strengths of accelerator and incubator models. The program delivers online coaching to identify and address the riskiest parts of each entrepreneur’s business model. Participants will join a cohort with access to the best resource providers, mentors, and investors in and beyond the region. This powerful network and flexible online guidance are what make S2V unique. S2V is offered to participants at no charge and without equity requirements.

More information at 

Shenandoah Valley Business Scale-Up Program:

In partnership with the National Center For Economic Gardening (NCEG) and the GO Virginia Region 8 local jurisdictions,* the Shenandoah Valley Business Scale-Up program provides qualifying second-stage companies with custom resources to identify and resolve distinct growth challenges that traditional business assistance and incentives do not address.

Companies accepted into the program begin an engagement period of approximately 6-8 weeks for quick turnaround time and highly-focused structure.  The typical length of engagement with the National Center is approximately 12-16 weeks.  A portion of costs are covered by a GO Virginia Region 8 matching grant and the company’s respective local governing body.

Eligible companies will receive customized services from a team of research specialists, including, but not limited to:

  • Strategic growth plans to develop new markets, refine business models, and utilize competitive intelligence
  • Increased visibility through improved digital presence, search engine optimization, and social media marketing
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data analysis and mapping

More information at

SVTC announces 25 nominees and will offer interactive networking at annual premier event for tech users and creators on Oct. 7

Like so many conferences and events intended to be held this year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council (SVTC) has moved its premier annual event, TechNite20, to a virtual format due to COVID-19.

“Like many organizations these days, we are pivoting,” says Nicky Swayne, chief executive officer of the SVTC. “We received a nice line-up of nominees in all award categories in the spring and don’t want to neglect what these innovators, educators, leaders, and developers have done. Tech Nite is on! We intend to honor and highlight them, as always, albeit virtually, at an online event with live networking. Networking with a twist: you decide what table you want to join and who you want to talk to. It’ll be the best networking since March.”

This year, TechNite20 will take place in a virtual and highly interactive platform called Remo and include both live and recorded segments. At the beginning of TechNite20, guests will network in real-time while using their cameras and mics, while moving around at virtual tables at will,  which allows the networking to feel fluid, natural, and fun.   

“After all, we had received 25 nominees, whose achievement we did not want to let go unrecognized,” says Nicky. “Innovation and leadership happened in our Valley, and we will show it off.”

As always, the tech council will give awards in eight categories and presenters will highlight 25 nominees. One of the most fun activities of Tech Nite is the social voting that everyone is able to participate in, before and during the event, for the category called Serco People’s Choice Award. This means that anyone can post public or private votes to support their favorite. We will again use a special hashtag, #SVTCPC20, and any nominee’s supporters can post their public votes via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. The tech council will collect these and announce the winner at the end of the event. This is another chance for all nominees to win in a second category. A quick primer -and the social wall itself- are located at 

The nominees are: 

Rockingham Circuit Court Clerk’s Innovation in Community Impact Award

  • Generate Impact
  • Horizons Edge Sports Campus
  • Valley Makers Association

GreeneHurlocker’s Innovation in Emerging Business Award

  • Sproutly, LLC
  • Traipse, Inc.

Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s Innovation in Education K-12 Award

  • Andrei Dacko, Valley Career and Technical Center
  • Diana Flick, Harrisonburg City Public Schools
  • Lisa Gibson, Shenandoah County Public Schools
  • Ryan Hall, Valley Makers Association
  • Jennifer LaBombard-Daniels, Shenandoah University
  • Massanutten Technical Center E-SOC

Segra’s Innovation In Higher Education Award

  • AR/VR Healthcare Simulation Course
  • BizLab
  • GO Virginia Cybersecurity Program
  • Autonomous Cart (JACart) Research Group
  • Shenandoah University

Center for Innovative Technology’s Innovation in Development Award

  • Bryan Tool & Machining
  • QuickFix
  • Shentel

Dynamic Aviation’s Innovation in Utilization Award

  • E-N Computers, Inc.
  • Interchange Group, Inc.

Shentel’s Dr. John Noftsinger Leadership Award

  • Phyllis Friesen, Design Concrete Builders Inc.
  • Tom Lundquist, Staunton City Schools
  • Anne Marchant, Shenandoah University

TechNite20 will be held on October 7, 2020. Details on how to vote for the Serco PCA and reservations are available at  

About Tech Nite
Tech Nite is the premier tech-centric event in the Valley that celebrates the successes of technology firms, organizations and programs in the region — and the entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and educators behind those successes. Tech users and creators gather to honor and recognize the area’s technology innovators. This recognition helps organizations and individuals immensely – the winning organization is able to expand its network, attract employees, and obtain publicity inside and often outside of the local region. 

About the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council
The Shenandoah Valley Technology Council (SVTC) is a non-profit membership organization serving the greater Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Its members are technology creators and users who gather together for education, networking and business development. By helping technology businesses in the area succeed and grow, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council is an integral component of the region, helping to bring high-paying technology jobs to the Valley.


Nicky Swayne 

Most Youth Summer Camps Moving Online This Summer

Looking for 2021 activities? You can view them here.

In an effort to keep our region safe and healthy several youth programs, camps, and classes throughout the Valley have been canceled this summer.  However, a few organizations have found creative ways to hold them virtually. Often they are a great alternative to the original and designed to keep children engaged and entertained by providing educational content.

We’ve provided a list of STEM-based camps within the Valley. Please SHARE additional online STEM youth camps or programs with us:

James Madison University’s Youth Programs and Camps

JMU Professional & Continuing Education is providing opportunities for online camps and learning for kids, many of which are STEM-based! Please take a look at the following camps and programs starting in June 2020.

  • Renewable Energy Camp | June 22 – 25, 2020 | Grades: Rising 4th – 12th
    During Renewable Energy Camp, kids will get a chance to harness the power of the wind and build a wind turbine as well as catch the sun and use it to power a village or even cook smores!  Over the week, we will learn about energy, renewable energy, energy conservation, wind energy, and solar energy.  At the end of the week, kids will have a chance to show off what they learned in a mini-science fair. Program Fee: $100.00. Renewable Energy Camp registration and more information
  • Science Explorers Camp
    Using JMU’s unique facilities such as the John C. Wells Planetarium, Science on a Sphere, among others, camp-goers will get to explore different areas of science, including biology, earth science, chemistry, forensic science, physics and astronomy and more! We seek to inspire and excite the next generation. Science Explorers Camp will touch on topics covered in the former Space Explorers Camp, while introducing new concepts, activities, and STEM challenges.
    Full Day Camp (rising 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th grades):
    July 6-10, 2020  Program Fee: $80.00
    Full Day Camp (rising 5th, 6th, 7th, & 8th grades): July 13-17, 2020 Program Fee: $80.00
    Science Explorers Camp registration and more information
  • College for Kids | July 27-31, 2020 | Grades: Rising K-8th
    College for Kids provides an enriching, educational, and fun experience for children in grades K-8. Students work with JMU faculty and graduate students, as well as experts from the community, to explore and discover talents they never knew they had! Classes include STEM topics such as A Dino-Mite STEM AdventureUncovering the Mysteries of Science, and MORE!
    Registration Fees:
    1 Session (Am or PM) for the week $80.00,
    2 Sessions (AM & PM) for the week $160.00
    College for Kids registration, class details, and more information

To check out all Youth Programs, please visit

Blue Ridge Community College’s Learning Can Be Fun (LCBF) Program

Blue Ridge Community College’s popular Learning Can Be Fun (LCBF) summer youth program offers 85 classes, providing rising 3-12 grade students plenty of opportunities for virtual learning.  Due to COVID-19 concerns, all classes meet online, with real-time learning taking place live with an instructor and other students for a virtual bonding experience over a one-week period.  Each class is grouped by appropriate age levels, with class size kept to a minimum to allow for individual attention.

Classes include the following subjects:

  • Black Rocket Productions- 60 classes
    • Design
    • Coding
    • Video Game Creation
    • Sports Challenges
    • Minecraft
    • JavaScript & Python
    • YouTube Content Creators
  • Science and Technology – 2 classes
  • Culture, History, Language, and Literature – 10 classes
  • Art, Music, and Theatre – 7 classes

LCBF registration, class details, and additional information

Explore More Discovery Museum Summer Camps (Harrisonburg)

While most summer camps are moving online the Explore More Discovery Museum has decided to hold their summer camps in-person while taking health and safety precautions. They will hold in-person camps beginning June 29. During the first month of camp season, the museum will be closed to the public while camps are in session. The Discovery Museum will continue to evaluate and extend this closure as needed.

Junior Summer Camps: Ages 3 1/2 – 5
Full listing of camps and Junior Camp registration

Master Explorers: Ages 6 – 13
Full listing of camps and Master Explorers Camp registration

Half Day Camps

(Members: $105.00)

Full Day Camps
(Members: $210.00)

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum Summer Camps (Winchester)

The SV Discovery Museum is also planning on holding in-person camps. Beginning June 29, the organization is planning to run physical, in-house camps. These camps will feature reduced camp sizes and are designed to follow current health and safety guidelines (e.g. masks, hand washing, social distancing, temperature checks, etc.). There are various camps, ranging from activities from Pre-K through Grade 8. Camps will run through the summer and end in August.

Discovery Museum members: $125 half-day
Non-members: $145 half-day
Discount for attending 3+ camps!

Camp registration, camp details, and additional information

STEM Winter Youth Programs

As you plan your kid’s fall/winter activities, check out JMU’s STEM winter youth programs:

College for Kids
College for Kids is an enrichment program for children in grades rising K-8. Children will work with James Madison University faculty and graduate students, as well as experts from the community and surrounding area, to try new things, explore and discover talents they never knew they had! This program will be held on 6 Saturdays, January 11th – February 15th, 2020

Technology-related sessions will also be offered. A few are:

  • Coding: Scratch Programming (Grades 4 – 6): This class lets students design their own interactive stories, games and animations while learning basic coding concepts. They will learn how to make characters move around the screen, interact with other characters and respond to sound effects.
  • Lego Engineering (Grades 1 – 5): This class is for young Lego enthusiasts who are ready to delve into the world of engineering and computer coding. Participants will work in teams to build and program their Lego creations using the We-Do Lego curriculum. Each day, students will be presented with a different challenge designed to spark their creativity and put their technical problem solving skills to work.
  • 3D Art (Grades 3 – 5): In this 3D art class, students will explore using both contemporary and classic mediums, while creating sculpture and collage pieces, out of a variety of materials, from foil, to joint compound and clay. Several modern artists will be featured. The final class will feature an “art show” of each students work on display!

For more information, please contact Melissa Heatwole at or (540) 568-4226.

More information and additional course options:

Register for College for Kids from Jan. 11 – Feb. 15, 2020

You Be the Chemist
JMU’s Professional and Continuing Education is teaming up with the Chemical Educational Foundation ® (CEF) to run the You Be The Chemist Challenge® in the Shenandoah Valley! You Be The Chemist Challenge is an interactive academic contest that uses the drama of competition to excite grade 5–8 students about science. The Challenge tests students’ knowledge of chemistry concepts, their real-world applications, and other topics that are included in standard science curriculum, such as:

  • the scientific method
  • properties of matter
  • chemical formulas & equations
  • chemistry in the human body

Participating schools and students have an opportunity to receive national recognition, prizes, and scholarships. The winner and one educator from each state even receive an expenses-paid trip to the national competition in Philadelphia in June! There is no cost to participate, and participation requires a minimal time commitment from schools. Study materials are provided free online to help students prepare for the competition. The local challenge for the Shenandoah Valley will be held on February 29, 2020 at James Madison University.

If you are interested in registering your school to participate in the Shenandoah Valley Challenge, please visit All participating schools must register by December 6, 2019.

The Challenge was created by the Chemical Educational Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing science education for our youth. The competition involved 30 states and almost 25,000 students during the last school year and it continues to grow—we hope to get your school involved!

For more information about participating in future events, please contact Melissa Heatwole at or 540-568-4226 or visit

2019 Start-Up Grants Now Available for FLL Teams

Looking for a grant to help start up your FLL team? Each year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council sponsors three new FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams from the Shenandoah Valley. Approximately half of the start-up cost of a new team is reimbursed, up to $350.

To be eligible, teams must be located in the footprint of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s area of operation. Applicants must also intend participate in the FLL competition within one year of receiving the grant. This grant can be used towards any equipment required for competition in FIRST LEGO League, including one or more LEGO robotics kits, a competition practice table, and an FLL field setup kit.

If you are interested in applying for the FLL Start-Up Grant, please complete the following form, and follow the steps as indicated on the form: FLL Reimbursement Grant Application (pdf)

About FLL
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) was created through a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the LEGO company and inspires future scientists and engineers. it is an international competition that challenges young participants to think like scientists and engineers. Every year FLL introduces kids to a real-world scientific topic, and teams are challenged to find a solution. They also build a robot and compete in a friendly, FIRST-style robotics event specially designed for their age group.

For more information about receiving an FLL Start-Up Grant visit our FLL information page. To learn more about FIRST LEGO League visit the VA/DC FIRST LEGO League website.