Environmental Centers connect the busy daily lives of people to nature and help to remind everyone of the importance of fresh water, green trees, and clean air. Many are teaching experiences, but all help to put people in touch with the natural world. Explore the beauty of outdoor Franklin County at one of its environmental centers. Whether part of a state park system, a local school district, or operated by a non-profit conservation organization, environmental centers build knowledge, help the public make informed and responsible choices, and support healthy communities.

 Charles Brightbill Environmental Center

4881 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236717.328.2126
Located adjacent to the James Buchanan High School on Fort Loudoun Road.

Hours:  The Center is open the first Sunday from October thru May from 2:00 – 4:00. Appointments for family outings can be made by calling the Center at 717 328-2126   or via the TWEP website or Facebook page. 

Educational Opportunities: This Charles Brightbill Environmental Center hosts monthly programs open to the public. School groups – public, private, and homeschool – may schedule visits for an educational experience that will meet PA State Standards.  Lessons are offered on a wide variety of topics such as predator/prey relationships, ecosystems, animal adaptations, migration, recycling, tree identification and much more. The Center includes a classroom, 2 large displays of stuffed wildlife in dioramas representing ecosystems from all over the world. The Center also has displays of  fossils, rocks, skulls, and  nests. 16 acres of natural habitat with walking trails and an outdoor classroom make a visit even more enjoyable. 

Outdoor Walking Area: The center includes a natural habitat area with trails and a stream, with an abundance of birds and butterflies..

For more information:  www.twep.org

Charles Brightbill Environmental Center. 

Tayamentasachta Center
for Environmental Studies

500 Leitersburg Street, Greencastle, PA 17225

Directions to this 45-acre environmental center: Exit 5 off I-81, left onto Baltimore Street to Ridge Avenue. Follow Ridge Avenue until it ends, turn left at the stop sign at Leitersburg Street.  Remain on Leitersburg Street to Tayamentasachta.

Hours: Call for hours.

Environmental Education: This center is operated by the Greencastle School District and has education programs for kindergarten through 5th Grade, including plant identification, learning to be stewards, environmental protection, ecosystems, habitats and much more. Tayamentasachta derives from a Native American word that means “never-ending water” and the center includes a 19th century farmhouse and barn, spring, spring house, log cabin, longhouse, pavilion and orchard.

Walking Trails: The center is open dawn to dusk seven days a week to the public and has walking trails, woodlots, field and gardens for the public to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Tayamentaschta Apple Festival: This fall event happens every October and highlights apples, which are a big industry in Franklin County. Local students are invited to help peel apples for apple butter and learn more about apples during the day. Other activities include making corn husk dolls, s’mores, scenic wagon rides, and apple dumplings for sale.

For more information:

Renfrew Institute for Cultural
and Environmental Studies

1010 North Main Street, Waynesboro, PA 17268

This environmental center, in Renfrew Park, is located on Route 16 East, take Exit 5 off I-81 (Main Street is Route 16)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Environmental Education: First-hand experiences help students understand how nature works and what role humans play in the eco-system. Younger children explore sensory activities and introductory concepts in ecology and older children explore more advanced topics such as watershed and wetland studies. Adults and teens can attend lectures and workshops on cultural and environmental topics throughout the year. Youth can also attend after-school watershed and stream study programs.

Summer Institute: After school is out for the year, Summer Institute provides fun, educational activities for children including discovering nature, hiking, gardening and much more.

Fish or Swim: Wade in the Antietam Creek, which flows through the park, or go fishing. A water-monitoring team also works on site which keeps information about the river before it goes into the Chesapeake Bay, two hours away.

Cultural History Education: For school children, the center offers a variety of hands-on activities and discovery-based learning methods. Students can step back in time and learn how Pennsylvania Germans lived on the farmstead 200 years ago with topics such as dairy culture, wool culture, flax culture, food preservation and preparation and German four-square gardening. Older students visit the Renfrew Museum house and use curatorial methods to become “
artifact detectives.”

Earth Celebration Day & Festival of Art: Renfrew celebrates spring with environmental exhibits, music, art, drum circle and food at Renfrew Park


Kite Fly: In April, enjoy a free afternoon of learning how to fly a kite from kite flying experts at Renfrew Park.

JazzFest: Relax on the lawn and listen to world-class jazz on a Sunday afternoon in August.

Pumpkin Festival: The Pumpkin Festival is a family tradition in October, highlighted by the exciting pumpkin-chunkin’ trebuchet, pumpkin carving, hayrides, live music, activities, games, food and more.

Other on-site programs include the Youth Festival in May, workshops doing heritage crafts, geology, owl walks and stargazing programs.

For more information: https://instituteatrenfrew.org/

Learn about the Environment in Franklin County, PA