Jerry “Dan” Swafford, project worker and curriculum specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension, died Jan. 4 at his home in Christiansburg.
Swafford was an enthusiastic member of the National FFA Organization and a certified drone pilot. On a clear day, he was most likely to be found at Kentland Farm in Blacksburg, tutoring students and faculty alike in the art of flying drones and using them for valuable research. In 2018, Swafford and his research team were featured in a local news media segment highlighting the benefits of drone technology to farms in the region.
During his time at Extension, Swafford was instrumental in the development and implementation of innovative STEM programming and research. He first developed impactful energy education programs and then branched out to expand STEM education offerings for both 4-H and FFA. He received the Virginia Association of Agriculture Educators Outstanding Service Award in 2011 and was named to the 2020 Virginia 4-H All-Stars.
“Dan was an extremely talented educator who worked equally well with youth and adults. He often said that working at Virginia Tech was his dream, and he enthusiastically adhered to our motto: Ut Prosim”, said Cathy Sutphin, associate director, youth, families and health. “Dan worked tirelessly to support STEM programming and bridge the 4-H and FFA programs. He had a zest for life and an infectious laugh. He never met a stranger, always tried to help others, and became a friend to everyone. He will be greatly missed.”
Prior to his service with Virginia Tech and Extension, Swafford was committed to making a positive impact in the lives of his students and served as a teacher in Buckingham, Appomattox, Goochland and Montgomery counties. He spent 29 years of his 39-year career teaching at Christiansburg High School.
Swafford earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree from the University of Central Missouri. He served 17 years in the US Army Reserve.
He is survived by his loving wife, Bettibel Kreye, with whom he was 32; twin brother Dean Swafford; daughter, Amanda Swafford (Justin Packard); bonus children, Charlie Kreye (Jessica Kreye), Katharina Kreye Alcorn and John Kreye (Fallon Kreye); grandchildren, Campbell, Abigail, Carliegh, Scarlett, Kennedy, Bondurant, Keegan and Amos; and prized puppies, Rusty and Gus.
A Life Gathering Celebration will be held for Swafford in the spring or summer of 2023.
The family is soliciting donations to the Virginia FFA Association, Dan Swafford Legacy Fund, 115 Hutcheson Hall (0908), Blacksburg, VA 24061.