Community Conservation Featured

TU leader in Pennsylvania named 'Conservationist of the Year'

Charles Charlesworth’s work inspiring youth and women earns him Fly Fisherman Magazine’s annual honor

From founding new TU chapters to bring attention and aid to local rivers, to launching a vibrant teen and college program, connecting more women to fly fishing and leading a wide range of conservation and science programs, Charles Charlesworth was recently named the 2021 Conservationist of the Year by Fly Fisherman magazine.

The major award, which also comes with a $10,000 donation from Simms Fishing Products to Charlesworth’s home chapter, the Lackawanna Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, follows 30-plus years of service to TU and conservation for Charlesworth, who has held nearly every single role within TU’s volunteer leadership — many of them twice — and was appointed to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission in 2019.

Charles Charlesworth with the Keystone Creek Walkers.

In 2016, Charlesworth received Trout Unlimited’s Distinguished Service in Leadership award at TU’s annual meeting. While he was in part being recognized for his role leading TU’s largest council in the country — with 49 chapters and over 11,000 members across the state of Pennsylvania — TU chose to recognize him most for the long line of chapter leaders he has helped build over the years, for the next generation of conservationists he has inspired to step forward and for the focus he has placed so strongly on building succession and sustainability for his chapter and council.

Engaging younger leaders in TU’s mission has been at the core of Charlesworth’s efforts since he became active as a volunteer. As president of the Lackawanna Valley Chapter, he helped found a local TU Teens program that has graduated 12 students in each of the last five years and grown to incorporate a one-week conservation camp. He nurtured and inspired a 5 Rivers College Club, the Keystone
Creek Walkers, to become active on campus and he helped develop a Women’s Initiative program which has evolved into a strong and thriving group called the Northeast Pennsylvania Fly Girls, which is lead by his wife, Roseangela, an avid angler and passionate conservationist in her own right.

Charlesworth inspiring the next generation of TU leadership.

These programs continue to pay dividends for the chapter by connecting a wave of new, young and diverse leaders into the local chapter, including the two most recent presidents, Adam Nidoh and Jacob Bliss — both of whom were in their 20s when elected.

Charlesworth’s legacy will include many accomplishments for coldwater conservation — he’s definitely not done yet —but he will likely be most proud of the way he has opened the door to conservation leadership for hundreds of new, young and excited anglers now and for decades to come.

By Jeff Yates. A Trout Unlimited member since age 11, Jeff is a passionate conservationist and avid angler who sees opportunities to care for and recover our rivers and streams at every turn. As the Director of Volunteer Operations, Jeff and his team support, train and lead the more than 420 local chapters and state councils of TU across the country and are priveleged to work with the more than 4,000 volunteers who lead them as board and committee members. An author, fly fishing guide and avid outdoors person, Jeff lives in Connecticut with his wife Kit, and step-daughters Katie and Kat as well as their three rescue dogs, Tahoe, Sparrow and Jack. When he's not at his desk - or out in the field working with volunteers - Jeff splits his time boulder hopping along small native Brook Trout streams and hiking rocky terrain.