In Memoriam: Edwin K. Charles, Teacher, Environmental Advocate: The ‘Teach-In Must Continue’

Edwin K. Charles (81) of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, educator, environmental advocate and founder of the Trails & Trees Environmental Center, passed away on May 5, 2024.

Here's a remembrance from the PA Conservation Heritage website--

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.

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.

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 made 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.

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.

Click Here to read more.  (Written by Wayne Kober.)


The community will gather to pay respects to Edwin Charles at Malpezzi Funeral Home, 8 Market Plaza Way, Mechanicsburg, on Friday, May 17th, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

A service will follow on Saturday, May 18th, at 11:00 am at St. Peter’s Church. All who knew him are welcome to join in celebrating his remarkable life.

In His Own Words:

-- Earth Day 50 PA: Edwin Charles - The Earth Day Teach-In Must Continue

Special Link:

-- We’re Heard This Before: ‘We’re Providing Jobs - Stopping Pollution Threatens Jobs’ - A Brief Review Of Pennsylvania’s Conservation History  [PaEN]

[Posted: May 9, 2024]


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