The shock was paralyzing to our Crow Canyon family when our Director of IT, Dylan Micah Schwindt, 42, died on December 3rd, 2021. The last few months have been spent grieving, remembering, and coming to terms with our day-to-day personal and professional lives without the wonderful, unique, and loving human being that was our friend and colleague, Dylan. The wound has felt too raw during this time to send a public message to our extended family and friends. His family, friends, and co-workers have shared many wonderful stories about Dylan on social media, and I’m certain there are many more to come. I’d like to share a little bit of his history with Crow Canyon and my relationship with him as a student and colleague.
Dylan was truly one of the most brilliant, creative, talented, and compassionate people I’ve ever known. His relationship with Crow Canyon began in 1995 as a student at our High School Field School, the summer before his junior year. This is also when I met Dylan, since I was a Crow Canyon Education Intern working with this group of high school students. I know from my conversations with him that this year changed both of our lives forever. This was a close-knit, energetic, unique group of exceptional young people who also shared the heartbreaking loss of a friend that year. As a grieving teenager, Dylan composed a beautiful piano tribute to his new friend, kept in touch with her family, and later watched the tree that was planted on our campus in memoriam grow and dwarf the building it still shades.
Right after field school was completed, Dylan volunteered at Crow Canyon during and after his final year of high school, and the next year he was awarded an internship with us in Environmental Archaeology. Still a teenager, he contributed so significantly to the work of Crow Canyon’s archaeologists as a volunteer and intern that he is a named co-author in many prestigious publications with scholars who were at the height of their careers. From his work as an intern, he developed a science experiment drawing on the environmental landscape of this area which placed 8th in the 1997 nationwide Westinghouse Science Talent competition. This impressive award included a full scholarship to NYU and allowed Dylan to conduct annual research projects around the world.
After completing his higher education, Dylan returned to his home landscape and to Crow Canyon in 2008 to work as a database technician. He steadily and deliberately grew his skills and areas of responsibility, receiving many promotions until he became our Director of Information Technology in 2017. I returned to Crow Canyon the following year, thrilled to work with Dylan in his position of leadership over one of our most critical functions.
Dylan was proud and excited to be the leader of IT at Crow Canyon, although the title doesn’t begin to capture his role. He wrote scientific proposals, won prestigious grants for projects, collaborated with other scientists, and published important research. He innovated artificial intelligence technologies for use in pottery analysis. He launched us into virtual reality. He worked with a team to develop our new Crow Canyon LiDAR project to locate and map sites using this sophisticated technology. He upgraded our accounting systems and helped me with our financial turnaround. He was infinitely trustworthy.
Dylan loved to discuss the concept of leadership – what makes a great leader, and how does a leader reach people and bring them together when people are so different. He was relentlessly curious about humans, and occasionally confounded by our reluctance to learn to use emergent technologies. Yet he was always cheerfully determined to help us learn to help ourselves in the world of tech. When we faltered, he made it fun, such as repurposing our campus security cameras to observe the marmots in their natural habitat and texting me to check it out every time he noticed interesting marmot behavior.
When Dylan would pop his head into my office to chat, I would see the adult leader he had become, and the funny, impossibly brilliant teenager I remembered. His warmth, love, and kindness will always permeate Crow Canyon’s campus, and remind me why I believe in this place, and why I believe people can make a difference in the world.
I miss you, Dylan.
Contributions can be made to the newly established Dylan Schwindt
Memorial Fund at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 Road K, Cortez, CO 81321, www.crowcanyon.org. Please make out checks to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center with “Dylan Schwindt Memorial Fund” in the note.
The use of this fund will be decided in collaboration with Dylan’s family to further projects that Dylan initiated and was passionate about.