Jan 26, 2023
Virginia Tech Extension specialist Swafford dies

Jerry “Dan” Swafford, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist who championed the use of drones to gather data on crops, has died.

Swafford, Extension project associate and curriculum specialist, died Jan. 4 at his home in Christianburg, Virginia. He was 71.

He was a member and supporter of the National Future Farmers of America, and was instrumental in developing and implementing innovative STEM programming and research, according to Virginia Tech Media Services.

“Dan was an extremely talented educator who worked equally well with youth and adults,” Cathy Sutphin, associate director youth, families and health for Virginia Extension, said in a statement. “He often said that his dream was to work at Virginia Tech, and he enthusiastically upheld our motto, Ut Prosim. (That I may serve).”

“Dan worked tirelessly to support STEM programming, bridging the 4-H and FFA programs,” Sutphin said in the release. “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.”

He initially developed 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.

Before his time at Virginia Tech and Extension, Swafford was a teacher in Buckingham, Appomattox, Goochland, and Montgomery counties in Virginia. He spent 29 years of his 39-year teaching career at Christiansburg High School, according to Virginia Tech

A celebration of life gathering will be this spring or summer.

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


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