Jerry “Dan” Swafford, project associate and curriculum specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension, passed away at his Christiansburg home on Jan. 4.

Swafford was an enthusiastic member of the National FFA Organization and a certified drone pilot. On a clear day, he could most likely be found at Kentland Farm in Blacksburg, mentoring students and faculty alike in the art of flying drones and using them to conduct valuable research. In 2018, Swafford and his research team were featured in a local news media segment highlighting the benefits of drone technology on area farms.

During his time with Extension, Swafford was instrumental in developing and implementing innovative STEM programming and research. He initially developed impactful energy education programs and then branched out to help broaden STEM education offerings for both 4-H and FFA. In 2011, he received the Outstanding Service Award from the Virginia Association of Agriculture Educators and in 2020, was inducted into the Virginia 4-H All-Stars.

“Dan was an extremely talented educator who worked equally well with youth and adults. He often said that his dream was to work at Virginia Tech, and he enthusiastically upheld our motto, Ut Prosim," said Cathy Sutphin, associate director, youth, families, and health. "Dan worked tirelessly to support STEM programming, bridging the 4-H and FFA programs. He had a zest for life and a contagious laugh. He never met a stranger, always tried to assist others, and became a friend to all. He will be greatly missed."

Prior to his service to Virginia Tech and Extension, Swafford was dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of his students and worked as a teacher in Buckingham, Appomattox, Goochland, and Montgomery counties. He spent 29 years of his 39-year teaching career 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 in the U.S. Army Reserve for 17 years.

He is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Bettibel Kreye; 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 cherished puppies, Rusty and Gus.

A celebration of life gathering will be held for Swafford in the spring or summer of 2023.

The family asks for any donations to be sent to Virginia FFA Association, Dan Swafford Legacy Fund, 115 Hutcheson Hall (0908), Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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