Edwin K. Charles


Edwin Charles was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1942. He graduated from Middleburg High School in 1960, from Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Social Studies Education in 1968, and Indiana University with a Master’s of Science in Geography in 1970. He honorably served in the United States Army from 1960 to 1963.

Ed’s love for environmental sciences, particularly mineralogy, geography, and teaching children and adults, carried him through a long teaching career beginning as a teaching assistant at Indiana University, continuing at the Mechanicsburg Area Intermediate School, the Mechanicsburg Area School District Trails & Trees Environmental Center, at Harrisburg Community College, and Messiah University. He also worked for the Pennsylvania State Museum and the Oakes Museum of Natural History.

Among his proudest achievements as an educator are the founding and operation of the Trails & Trees Environmental Center. The center features a forest, a large meadow, trails, springs, a stream, a modern pavilion, and a Pre-Civil War farmhouse. Since its inception the center and its 26 acres of land continues to grow in importance as a community environmental education center for children and adults. A unique feature of the center is the “Heritage Tree Project” with 20 trees that pinpoint a major historical site in the United States such as;

  • Tree #1 Oak-Walden Woods (Boston, Massachusetts)

The seed from this tree was from a red oak tree in Walden Woods where Henry David Thoreau had his sojourn beside Walden Pond.

  • Tree #3 White Ash-Eleanor Roosevelt (New York City, New York)

The seed from this tree was from the Eleanor Roosevelt White Ash which stands in Hyde Park along the Hudson River, the home of the 42nd President of the Unites States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Along with his distinguished teaching career, Ed is an environmental activist at the community, state, and national level. He actively served in many community, educational, and environmental organizations including:

  • Pennsylvania League of Conservation Voters (Founding Member)
  • Three Mile Island Alert
  • Environmental Coalition for Nuclear Power
  • Pennsylvania Geographic Society (Board of Directors)
  • Pennsylvania Council for Geographic Education (Board of Directors)
  • Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project (Advisory Group Member)
  • Central Pennsylvania Rock and Mineral Club
  • Upper Allen Township Comprehensive Recreation and Open Space Committee
  • Eastern Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Society
  • American Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Society
  • Cumberland County Greenways Task Force
  • Cumberland County Open Space Preservation Steering Committee
  • Pennsylvania Alliance for Environmental Education
  • Yellow Breeches and Trout Run Watershed Association
  • Susquehanna Greenways Partnership
  • National Council for Geographic Education

As evidence of his exemplary service, he received the follow awards:

  • National Council for Geographic Education Meritorious Teaching Achievement (1974 & 1979)
  • Pennsylvania Council for Geographic Education Outstanding Teacher (1978)
  • Outstanding Mechanicsburg Area School District Teacher (1971, 1974, & 1996)
  • Mechanicsburg Area School District’s Special Services to Students (1974)
  • Eastern Federation of Mineralogical Society’s Most Educational Display at a National Show

Ed and Mary Ann, his wife of 54 years, were both teachers. They have traveled to 42 states and 18 countries serving their interests in history, geology, and minerals. They enjoy photography and collecting rocks, minerals, and fossils.

As parents and grandparents, an aunt or uncle, a friend, or a neighbor, they always bubble over with excitement when describing what they have explored and discovered together. They make every effort to pass their love for the environment and their desire to protect the earth for future generations to others.

Ed has always had an overwhelming passion for collecting, collating, analyzing, and interpreting information about the environment he discovers in books, maps, and personal observations. He relishes putting environmental trends in perspective and looking at and talking about the destiny of man and the environment. Conversations with him are always show and tell sessions where he holds documents, maps, and historic artifacts while telling you the most interesting facts and observations.


Prepared by Wayne Kober
Co-Chair PA Conservation Heritage Project and Proud Friend of Ed and Mary Ann Charles