Update: ENP/Trails Classroom Solar Project – Phase One is Complete!

31 Jan

January 20, 2017.

Today a great milestone was achieved.

It had nothing to do with events happening in Washington DC and everything to do with the celebration and support of a long and prosperous future for all people and all creatures everywhere on planet Earth.

It was a celebration of the children and the students – the leaders of tomorrow – who will mold and shape our country and our planet’s future into one that supports all of our needs through a strong connection to nature, balanced with and connected to the findings and tools of science.  These peer reviewed tools will need to be wielded carefully and thoughtfully, through the teamwork of dedicated, caring, thinking individuals, organizations, communities, and the like-minded forward thinking future policy makers that work to support them for the betterment of all.

It was a celebration of life, of clean air, clean water, a healthy earth and the support of wild places and wildlife though the protection of our life-giving environment.

It was a celebration of working toward a more stable climate through the promotion and demonstration of the renewable energy innovations and innovators working toward transitioning our society away from a dirty, toxic, fossil fuel based energy and transportation systems, to a clean, sustainable, domestically produced renewable energy and electrically driven transportation system future for us all.

It was a celebration of science, of human ingenuity, and of the countless American and international workers, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, laborers, naturalists, educators, artists, activists, business leaders, enlightened individuals, and forward thinking leaders working tirelessly to make positive change happen for us all. A good and lasting change that supports the continued protection of our wild places, the creatures that live there, and the essential environmental, renewable energy, and EV technologies and policies that will form the backbone of a healthy and prosperous future for us all – no matter what your species may be.

Today was 100% AWESOME!

Today, my Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management (NRM) students and I completed the primary construction on our classroom’s 5.3kW off-grid solar array!

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The students and I sliding the last solar module into place! 

Now that the classroom array is complete, we only have a few more tasks to complete and a few more components to source* before the array goes online!  At that time we will begin producing a large percentage of the classroom’s electricity needs from on-site produced renewable solar electricity!  *If you are interested in assisting us with the acquisition of the final components please visit our donate page.

Once fully realized and operational, this technological achievement will, above all else, serve to educate and inspire the young minds of today on the possibilities of tomorrow – and that is an accomplishment to be proud of.

On top of that grand achievement this solar power station will-

  1. Dramatically lower our reliance on energy produced by the burning of always toxic and dirty,  life and atmosphere, killing coal and other fossil fuels that generate the majority of the electricity in our area.
  2. It will drastically lower the building’s power costs.
  3. On top of all that awesome it will also solar charge the ENP/Trails Science 100% electric Nissan Leaf EV outreach vehicle making it truly zero emission and free to fuel!

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The Leaf charging up at possibly the planet’s only chicken coop EV charging station while the chickens look on.  This station will soon be solar powered making free solar fuel for the vehicle! 

Old Dreams and a New Hope

Today the old dreams of a starry-eyed geeky child of the 70’s and 80’s, and the new hopes of a more seasoned, science minded man of today, took a great leap toward becoming a grand reality.

The grand reality of this project is the manifestation of a childhood dream that I have carried with me since way back in 1981 when I was only 12 years old.  This dream was to one day produce electricity for my home, and fuel for my vehicle – with clean energy from the sun so that my actions (my carbon footprint) would not harm the very earth, environment, and wild creatures that I love so much and rely on for my very existence.

You may ask why a 12 year old was thinking about such things?  Well, to understand that you need some background.  Today I am a self proclaimed and very proud nerd, geek, dweeb, whatever you want to call it but 35 years ago I was anything but proud of my nerdish attributes.  I was the skinny little kid in school that was picked on and harassed by the insecure “jocks” and looked down upon by the popular girls.  My escape from the constant torture was immersion in nature and animals for they were not judgmental and did not care what I looked like – they accepted me as I was.  I soon became the kid that everyone in the neighborhood brought injured bunnies, turtles, and orphaned birds to for care.  I was the kid who would go exploring for hours alone in the forest and fields after school rather than play a sport.  I was most happy in the woods, within my own thoughts, and with a fishing line in the water. I could not have cared any less about the ladder climbing status and power junkies and talking heads on the news or in the halls at school. Being surrounded by nature and wild creatures fueled my great curiosity in how nature worked. I was captivated by the amazing things I found in the forests, fields, and creeks, the mysterious biological and ecological connections and interrelationships that made things work, and by the wonderful mysteries of the great cosmic space-time trip that we all exist within and are a part of.

The natural sciences and space sciences were most captivating to me, and because I was always at the library checking out books on nature, science, space etc. I quickly became a data junkie and was labeled a “bookworm” “nerd” “geek” etc. by my friends and fellow students.  By age 10 I had read every encyclopedia in the house several times over, every new and old National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science magazine I could find and I was fascinated by everything.  My early heroes that inspired me the most were my father – a botanist, who would drop everything to take me into the forest whenever I wanted to go, my mother – a teacher, who let me follow my own path and provided me with great loads of books to digest and learn from, my heroes were David Attenborough, Jacques Cousteau, Capt. James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhura and the others, Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, Neil and Buzz and any and all Astronauts and Cosmonauts, Isaac Newton, Mark Twain, Spiderman, Rachel Carson, Albert Einstein (even though I despised math), Roger Tory Peterson, Grizzly Adams, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking…you get the idea.

I soon realized that this thing called science was what had built, and what was was running the modern world.  I also realized that this thing called science, when placed in the wrong hands, had made killing each other, our beloved animals, and even our life-giving mother earth all that much easier. This was a hard lesson to learn but it awakened my mind to the double edged sword that is science. For some, this revelation might cause a distrust and fear of science but for me it was entirely the opposite.  It made me want to learn more about the world, about nature, and about science, because science is the study of nature and what makes it exist, act, and behave the way it does. I wanted to know what makes nature tick and through this curiosity came a great love for all things and for the power of the scientific method.  As I grew and learned I decided that I wanted to do all in my power to share the complex beauty of nature with everyone I met in the hopes that like me, they would come to love nature and science as I do.  Like the saying goes “when you come to understand something, you then come to love it, once you love something you will do anything in your power to protect it.”

Mentors

During my formative years I was also fortunate to have had several amazing mentors in the form of wonderful elementary school science teachers who offered not only great lessons on these topics but also working examples of these technologies in their classes in the form of small models such as these science experimentation kits.  These hands-on project kits, backed up by inspiring classroom lessons, allowed me to see how these technologies work, and to understand their applications to our future and above all else they had a great and lasting impact on my young mind.

Lessons from good TV

At the same time I was encountering great messages of hope and learning of ways to solve our problems through science and teamwork.  These messages were revealed to me on two of the most influential TV series on at the time: the revolutionary TV documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage written and hosed by the great visionary Carl Sagan, and that most popular “wagon train to the stars” space opera – Star Trek.  While not the same as a good text book and hands-on lessons, the ideas, positive messages, and amazing imagery of these television shows had a great and formative impact on my young mind and laid the groundwork for the course of my life.

Bringing it all together

With all of this knowledge and front loading on future possibilities mixing together within my young mind it was then that I realized the following:

1. Clean, non-polluting electricity can be produced with energy from the sun with a solar panel (module).

2. Highway capable vehicles can be powered by clean electricity.

3. These technologies can help clean up the earth, air, and water and make it safe and healthy for all creatures.

These facts revealed to me by my sixth grade science teacher, and supported by my heroes in real life and on TV, were very powerful and greatly influenced the many factors that have shaped and directed the entire course of my life.

Later on in life I experienced two more moments of clarity that have never left my mind and continue to give me focus and drive to this day:

1. These amazing technologies, when coupled with recent advances in photovoltaics, and battery storage, are part of the solution that will give us a 100% renewable powered society free from the grips of toxic fossil fuels and from the downward spiral of dependency and environmental destruction that they represent.

2. This knowledge needs to be shared with the world and most importantly with the next generation, the children, for they are the future.

These powerful realizations have given the dreams of a geeky little 12 year old boy, much more focus and have served to mold my old ideas into a newly modified goals that will have much greater impact and importance on the word of today.  My newly evolved dream is as follows:

While it is an admirable goal to use renewable energy and EV technologies to benefit myself and my family, I feel that for me personally, that goal is a bit selfish and only helps out a small number of people (although I applaud and support anyone who takes the steps to install renewable energy on their rooftop/property – you are the change makers and you are heroes!)

For me a much grander goal would be to share that knowledge with the world just as my elementary school teachers and heroes on TV did for me.  It is for these reasons that I have been so driven and focused to make this project a reality for my classroom and for my students through the construction of our new classroom solar array.  These technologies and knowledge need to be shared with as many people as possible so that together we can all work to change the world for the better in support of all people and all creatures everywhere.

To that end this project is the realization of my evolved childhood dream has become the goal I have worked toward for the last three years – to power my classroom and EV on clean, site produced, renewable solar electricity that will allow my students and visitors to experience the first hand functioning of real world, off-the-shelf and off-the-lot renewable energy applications such as solar-electric power, and electric vehicles.

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The ENP Outreach vehicle at a local solar farm that provides clean solar electricity to around 400 homes!  I regularly take my students on field trips to visit this facility – so cool!!

In our solar powered science classroom my students bust through the negative myths often associated with solar power, renewable energy, and electric vehicles by assisting with the maintenance and operation of working examples of renewable energy and EV technologies in class.  After leaving my classroom my students will be more informed, up to date, connected, and ready to accept the reality of, and make use of, sustainable clean energy and transportation technologies and applications to power their lives and their futures for the benefit of themselves and for the environment that supports them.

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Success!!

As stated before, and I cannot stress enough – these projects will be wonderful and inspiring, mind opening STEM teaching tools for my science class students, for all who visit the ENP/Trails Science and Nature Center, and for the participants of my ENP outreach programs for many, many years to come!

It is the students and children of today that will run the country and the planet tomorrow so it is up to us to present them with working examples of the best ethics, best practices and best technologies that will lead us all into a clean, safe, prosperous, shared future for all people and all creatures everywhere.

This grand accomplishment will always be there for my students and visitors to experience as it demonstrates “The New Normal*” in showing the next generation that – YES this is possible and YES it works and YES we can! We can make a  better future through the application of clean, renewable energy and Electric Vehicle (EV) technologies!  We can work together to clean up and protect the earth, the atmosphere, the waters, and the lands, and we can make life better for ourselves and for the wild creatures with which we share this planet by applying the findings of science, technology, engineering and math and a good dose of common sense to fix the problems of today and make a better tomorrow for us all. *Thank you Bob Harris for the inspiring words of wisdom.

Even More Awesome!

On top of the amazing achievement made today I later watched as my Leaf’s odometer turned over to 45,000 miles of petroleum free driving!  Shortly thereafter I was honored to charge alongside another Leaf at a local EV charging station that was made possible by many of the same individuals and organizations that have helped us make this wonderful solar array possible.

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All of these amazing advancements have been made possible with the support and teamwork of my wonderful students and the staff of Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina, my volunteer interns, great friends and project supporters Bob Harris and Jim Hardy, Black Bear Solar Institute, Siemens Corporation, members of the Blue Ridge EV Club,  and many local and regional EV owners, forward thinkers, businesses, individuals, nonprofits, and educational institutions teaming up to make this project and others like it possible.

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT

Together we are all working to change the world for the better, great things are happening and it is we the people that are making these things happen.

BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD AND THE WORLD WILL CHANGE

A note from Steve

I am passionate about sharing my love, curiosity, and respect for nature, wildlife and wild places, and the methods and tools of science with everyone I meet – especially my classroom and outreach programming students and participants and readers of this blog.  

I truly feel that it is the open minded students and lifelong learners of today that will make the most important wildlife, nature, and energy conservation decisions of the future.  It is my goal to give them the best possible exposure to the realities of these disciplines by demonstrating what is possible for today and for tomorrow so they will be better informed and ready to change the world for the better as they mature. 

Toward that end I am working very hard to complete all of these upgrades and enhancements to my programming under my very small wildlife, nature and science conservation, education and outreach organization Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3) which is supported primarily through monetary, resource, and time donations from concerned individuals just like you. 

To cover the remaining materials and costs associated with this solar project, and the other upgrades to the Science and Nature Center, I am working on acquiring donations from any and all sources that would like to support us. Every little bit helps get us closer to our grand goals that will serve to upgrade our education animal habitats, classroom, education, and citizen science research equipment, and to power our classroom facility and outreach vehicle via the endless energy from the sun and most importantly – educate and inspire our students on the proper respect, understanding and value of wildlife and wild places, and the wise and responsible application of clean energy sources that we can all use to provide for, and empower our shared futures. 

I feel that by demonstrating what is possible, and working together toward the common goal of creating and maintaining a better world for all living things today and into the future, we will be able to make all of our dreams come true for the betterment and health of us all and in support of the planet and the complex life systems that in turn, supports us. 

Please consider supporting us in any way you are able.   

Thank you.   Sincerely, 

Steve O’Neil 

Executive Director of Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3)

and

Naturalist with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina

www.earthshinenature.com

Email: earthshine.nature@gmail.com

If you would like to support this project in its final hour of need please consider making a donation today.

Follow this blog for updates on this project and more!

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Alien Close Encounter – a thought experiment

15 Jan

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Utsanati in a resting coil. Photo by Steve O’Neil

I entitle this story “Alien Close Encounter.”  By Steve O’Neil

For the next few moments tap into your all-too-human willing suspension of disbelief, and imagine what it must be like to be a Timber rattlesnake.  Please keep in mind that reptiles, with their reptilian brains, do not possess human-like emotions or “higher” reasoning skills and therefore function on instinct alone not sensing their environment the same way us macrocephalic humans do.   For the reader to better understand and “feel” what it must be like to exist as a Timber rattlesnake, I have taken the liberty of anthropomorphizing the situation in the attempt to give you an idea of what it would be like to be a Timber rattlesnake – from an entirely human point of view.

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It is mid July.  A warm, soaking summer rain has recently fallen and there is thunder in the distance. The forest covered mountain you call home is warm, wet, steamy, calm…and alive with a myriad of diverse and wonderful living things.  Slowly, cautiously, you ease out of the safe crack under the sheltering log you used to get out of the rain, and move into a bright beam of warmth filtering down through the still heavily dripping canopy.  You sit in a loose resting coil, your yellow-gold scales shining in the warm summer sun. You soak up the warm sky-heat and the life-giving energy from last night’s Chipmunk meal coursing through your body.  Your belly is full…you are safe, warm, and partially hidden from view by the tall berry-filled bushes all around you…and by your cryptic camouflage that breaks up your pattern against the leaf litter…you are as content as a rattlesnake can be.  Soon you doze off to sleep and your rattle hangs silent and unused for you have nothing to fear because you are in your own living room.  Time passes…

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Zoe is a beautiful creature.  Photo by Steve Atkins

Suddenly, you are jolted awake…you are now in the shade but still very warm…what woke you…the forest is still quiet, steamy, and dripping with rainwater…could it have been the water drops still falling from the canopy world high above?  You sense the tiny vibrations from all around as the last droplets of water strike the nearby leaves and rocks…even your scales are covered by tiny, glistening droplets of water that have fallen from the canopy…it must have been something else.  A small dark spider crosses silently over your back unaware of your presence…you do not move.

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Utsanati covered in dewdrops. Photo by Steve O’Neil

The only other thing that has changed is the position of the life-giving fire in the sky…it is closer to “End of the day Mountain” where the lions once lived.  You stay very still…assessing the forest for more information…then suddenly your senses tell that something is not right…you feel it through your belly scales…a vibration coming up through the warm, wet, leaf litter…there is something large moving through the forest and it is coming your way…it is getting closer…you flick your tongue tasting the air…nothing but wet forest…moss…leaves…trees…a slight hint of last night’s meal…there it is again, you can feel its footfalls…they are not gentle, not close together and ambling such as deer would make…not the wayward scurrying of your favorite meal…not the bounding of bobcat or the lumbering gait of bear…no, these are widely spaced heavy footfalls and their vibrations tell you this creature is large…maybe as large as bear…yet different somehow…its footfalls are so very different…you cannot see it…you flick your tongue…tasting the air again…there…a new taste…an old memory forms…you taste something you have only occasionally tasted…only when the winds blow from the to-be-avoided, odd looking, very loud, rock and tree habitat-caves on top of the ridge.  It is a complex pungent taste, unlike anything in the forest…a blending of so many unusual and foreign tastes and odors…it is so alien to you…but now the taste is so much stronger than you have ever sensed…then you see it…taller than bear…walking on two legs as bear does when he wants to look around…what is this thing?!  It crashes forward through the bushes, small forest creatures and birds rapidly move out of its way as it advances.  It moves plants and even small trees out of its way with long, lanky, fore limbs…it  must be almost as strong as bear!  Unlike bear its coat is bright and oddly colored – how does it hide from predators with a coat like that?!  Your “little voice”(instinct) tells you that animals with bright colors are to be avoided – maybe it is dangerous! You flatten your body against the ground attempting to blend in more with the forest floor…your heat sensors tell you that its body is very warm like bear…it must be wonderful to always be warm.  Unlike bear it seems to have a large shell on its back like old turtle?  Just what is this odd looking creature – so many questions but no time to answer them!  It is coming directly toward you…it is SO LOUD…it is SO TALL…it is SO LARGE…all your instincts tell you it must be DANGEROUS and must be avoided. You feel so small…so vulnerable…out in the open of the forest floor…in your world, large animals almost always try to EAT smaller ones like you…if only you could dash into the cover of your sheltering crack under the nearby log without being seen…ever since you can remember you have spent many safe nights under there yet now you are frozen with fear and afraid to move…afraid to reveal your position to this massive creature…you are very afraid…SO VERY AFRAID!

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Zoe close up. Notice her heat sensing pit organ in front of and below her eye.

Photo by Steve Atkins

You do not want to die – you still have many things you must do.  You know you are vulnerable and exposed in the middle of the small clearing in the forest.  You are visible…but only if you move and the creature sees you.  Your “little voice” screams out again and tells you to remain absolutely still and do not move because you have a very unique form of camouflage that breaks up the outline of your body and hides you very well…unless you move.  The monstrously strange creature moves still closer…your senses are on red alert…adrenaline surges through your muscles and a tingling sensation moves throughout your body…if it gets much closer you will be forced to let it know that it is too close…you will be forced to shake your tail and that changes everything.  If you shake your tail you may even be forced to defend your life using the only defense you have-the venom in your teeth.

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Zoe after having a recent large feed. Photo by Steve O’Neil

The towering, ugly, stinking, loud, alien creature moves a bit closer, its massive flat feet crushing the leaves, breaking sticks, and probably small forest creatures underneath…it is terrifying to think what it’s huge feet would do to you if it stepped on you!! Suddenly, just when you are about to shake your rattle, it stops just a few snake lengths from where you are coiled.  It takes off its turtle shell…how strange…old turtle cannot take off her shell!?  It removes some sort of shiny, cylindrical object from within the shell and raises it to its whiskered, somewhat Raccoon-like face – you smell water for a moment – some droplets of the life-giving liquid fall to the ground and you feel their impact as they splatter on nearby Deermouse rock – then it puts the watery object back into its turtle shell, puts the shell on its back, turns toward the valley, and moves off toward the Land of the loud and shaggy slave wolf clan to the north.  That was just too close.  You stay totally still but for your deep breathing and the occasional flick of your tongue.  You wait until you do not feel its vibrations or smell its pungent aroma any longer and only then do you slowly move back under your rock.  You coil tightly as you can coil feeling the unbelievable stress and exhaustion brought on by the horrifying encounter start to fade away from your muscles.  Now in the comfort of your favorite summer shelter you soon fall deep asleep as a soft rain starts to fall on your ancient forest and the sun slips away behind End of the day Mountain.

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Zoe resting on a low limb. Photo by Steve O’Neil

Did that story help you understand and respect the Timber rattlesnake even just a little bit more?  I hope so.  Not only are they part of a healthy ecosystem but they have a place in this world, a place in the wild doing what rattlesnakes do–controlling rodent populations, moving energy around the forest, and providing food for other animals.  They are not “evil,” “mean,” and “nasty” “monsters” that are out to hunt down and ruthlessly kill people.  They are peaceful, solitary creatures that, operate on instinct rather than emotion and prefer to be left alone, but they will protect themselves if threatened accidentally or intentionally with harm.

So would I.

Statistics show that only about 5 people a year die from venomous snake bites in the USA.  However, between 2006 and 2015, 313 people were killed by lightning.  In 2015 alone 35,092 people died in vehicle related accidents and cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 deaths annually!   These stats suggest that you have an exponentially greater chance of being struck by lightening, meeting your end in a car accident and/or due to your nasty habit of smoking toxic tobacco than from the bite of an indigenous venomous snake.

These statistics speak for themselves so why do people continue to target and kill venomous snakes?  Fear? Erroneous beliefs that snakes are somehow “bad” or “evil?”  Lack of information and quality education?  Misunderstandings?  Bad television, movies, and media representation?  Collection for the illegal bush meat, “pet,” and clothing trades? Some kind of macho insecurity?  The answer is all of the above.  If we do not stop the killing and ignorant persecution, then one day they will all be gone and what then will the forest have lost…

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Collecting data while Zoe looks on.  Photo by Steve Atkins

Recently, I visited an ancient Timber rattlesnake den site not far from my study area.  For eons this site hosted dozens of healthy rattlesnakes of all ages.  About a week before my visit the site had been plundered by snake hunters who had not a care in the world for the snakes or the habitat.  I saw not a single snake.  The habitat was destroyed.  All the snakes had been captured or killed and for what–skins, money, meat, small minded machismo–probably all of those reasons. I am saddened to think that this site had existed for probably millions of years as a rattlesnake haven and in only a few hours it was reduced to ruin by ignorant sub-humans out for a few dollars.

This practice must end.

Education is the key to understanding and with understanding comes respect, conservation, and preservation.

This is why I do what I do.  This is why I am passionate about educating everyone I meet about why Timber rattlesnakes and all wildlife and wild places are of utmost importance to us all.

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Can you find Zoe in this photo?  Photo by Steve Atkins.

I’m not saying that you should run out and become a “snake handler.”  I am just asking you to please learn the facts about these beautiful and misunderstood creatures and their most important and interconnected role in nature.  Please work to develop a great respect and admiration for them as I do for they are true, one-of-a-kind jewels of the forest.

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Utsanati on the move. Photo by Steve O’Neil

Utsanati and Zoe are two wild Timber rattlesnakes that I followed for almost four years in a radio telemetry based habitat use and movement study in the mountains of Western North Carolina, USA.

Watch highlights from the the study on my YouTube playlist.  

Adds that appear below this line are not promoted or authorized by Steve O’Neil or Earthshine Nature Programs.

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Why I Save Snakes (and turtles, and Opossums…)

8 Jan

In a recent article I read about two women who save rattlesnakes from being killed on roads.  These women are heroes to me and their journey has inspired me to put my thoughts down on “paper” and share them with all of you.

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Photo by Tim Peacock from the article by W.R.Shaw 

Like these amazing women I too have been saving snakes – Rattlesnakes included – and all others as well as turtles, salamanders and Opossums for as long as I have been driving.

With most incidents I quickly move the animal to to the side of the road it is moving toward and then move on without incident.  Below are a few videos of some of my rescues when I was toting a video camera.

Box turtles (and all others) need our help across the road

And just last year I rescued one Timber rattlesnake from a garden and then another as I drove home from the first rescue – two in one night!

On another occasion several people worked together to get one small box turtle back to her home in the remote forest.

A copperhead rescue…

Most of the times when I am rescuing wildlife from the road the other drivers will slow down and wait for me to rescue the animal and sometimes even thank me out the window as they pass.  I believe most people are really good and helpful and may only hit small creatures crossing the roads on accident.

Other, thankfully more rare times, I have had drivers swerve their vehicles toward me and speed up in the attempt to hit the animal before I get to it.

Once this happened as a friend and I had just pulled over and were jogging toward an Eastern box turtle that was attempting to cross a curvy 2 lane road in the mountains near Boone, NC.  As we were approaching the turtle a huge jacked up “redneck” truck with nasty diesel smoke belching from over-sized “hey look at me” loud exhaust pipes swerved past us, accelerated and aimed for the animal.  We could only watch as the helpless reptile died in a cartwheel of blood and gore under the giant tires of the infantile drivers weapon of death. As the truck hit the turtle with a very audible “pop” we could hear the hoots and catcalls from the driver and passenger as they celebrated their murder of an innocent and helpless creature. I am normally a calm, easy going person but at that moment I was so mad and disgusted with humanity that if that driver had turned around I do not know what I would have done but it would not have been nice.

Many years ago I witnessed the aftermath of a similar incident that I recorded in the below video.

In the following video a scientist conducts an experiment to explore the connections between the species of the animal and how many drivers target them.

In another incident, as I was driving home one warm summer night when I noticed a medium sized Copperhead warming its belly on a remote road.  I saw the snake in the last instant and was forced to straddle it with my car to avoid hitting it and then I quickly pulled off the road and jumped out to move it before the approaching vehicle could hit it.  Unfortunately the driver was only a few car lengths behind and probably did not see it as they came into the dark curve and hit the snake which quickly died…and so did the 9 babies gestating in its belly.

Yet another time I watched as a driver on a cellphone driving on a busy Florida highway mowed down an adult Gopher tortoise as it tried to cross the road – yet another cartwheel of blood and gore from a protected keystone species. The driver never even tapped her brakes but from my vantage point I have no idea how she did not see the animal.

Other times I have stopped to move road-killed animals off the road in order to not cause the deaths of the scavengers that come to feed on them. When I have moved rattlesnakes they almost always have a missing rattle (see the video below in which I find just that).  – This is evidence that the murderer took the snake’s rattle as a trophy of their conquest of the “fearsome deadly beast” they now probably brag about to their friends to boost their machismo at the expense of another creatures life – now you see how I feel about trophy hunting.

Then there’s the type of people that swerve in the attempt to maybe intimidate me into;

A. Dropping the animal and running so they can kill it with their rolling death machine.

B. Assisting with their deadly plans by throwing it under their wheels so they can kill it with their rolling death machine.

C. Possibly kill us both with their rolling death machine because they are holding onto some misplaced ancient dogma that insists that snakes are “evil” and anyone who associates with them must also be “evil” so it would be appropriate to kill both of the “evil” creatures at the same time. Really? Yes, there are misguided people like that still out there walking and driving the earth – some of them are even toting guns – yikes!

It is truly sad that in this day of scientific breakthroughs leading to technological achievements that allow us to drive great distances in machines of science (cars, planes, trains, ships, rockets etc..), connect with others at the speed of light using devices of science (smartphones, internet, satellites, computers,…), and the fact that many of us owe our very lives to the findings of science by way of medications derived from snake venom such as snake bite antivenin and some cancer and pain treatments and more and even more). Watch the video below for more on this.

Crofab antivenin is used in treating the bite of pitvipers.  The video below shows how venom is extracted from Rattlesnakes before used to produce lifesaving antivenin.

Here is a another good, but a bit over dramatized, video of how Crofab is used to treat the bite of Pitvipers.

Then there is the simple fact that through thousands of years of direct observation and the findings of science, that we now know for absolute fact that snakes eat lots of rodents (mice, rats, voles etc…) and that these rodents, if not kept in check by snakes and other predators, would overpopulate destroying our crops and spreading deadly disease–watch an example in the following video.

Rodents directly and indirectly carry or play a part in the vectoring diseases that sicken and kill humans the world over in huge numbers (Bubonic plague, Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverHantavirus and Hantavirus Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Lassa Fever,  Leptospirosis, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, Rat Bite Fever, Salmonella, Arenaviridae, Tularemia need I go on…), so logic and reason would dictate that we should never ever choose to willingly harm a snake and we should in fact honor and protect them if only for the rodent removal service they provide our homes, farms, forests and fields thereby keeping us fed and healthy.

Many, like the women in the article I noted at the start of this posting, and others like John Sealy, Alan Cameron, William H. Martin,  Bruce Means, and organizations like The Orianne Society, The Center for Snake Conservation, The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Davidson River Herpetology Lab, and many bloggers like the Wandering Herpetologist and Living Alongside Wildlife and myself are working to share the facts, truths and benefits of snakes and other reptiles with you, our readers.

Sadly it seems that there remain many good and bad people, or should I say “Sheeple,” who choose to live their lives blindly following ancient or ignorant beliefs rather than truth, reason, logic, and the findings of science.
sheeple
I feel sorry for these people.
I feel sorry for them because they are so closed to the facts that their actions of killing snakes and other wildlife end up make this thing called life harder for us all – from the snake crossing the road to the rest of us just trying to make a living.
Yes, I rescue snakes and other wildlife from roads, homes, and wherever else they are in need. I rescue them because they need rescuing from the bullying humans who are BY FAR more dangerous and deadly than the snakes they target with their cars, hoes, shovels and fear driven ancient beliefs and venom spitting narrow-minded hatreds.  I also choose to make a difference by teaching the scientific truths — based on reason, knowledge and experimentation as well as thousands of years of collective observation by countless scientists, naturalists, animal lovers and farmers all over the planet — to anyone and everyone who will listen.  I do this through my science classes, my small nonprofit education and outreach organization Earthshine Nature Programs, my YouTube Channel and this blog.
Please, do not be a sheeple. Before you decide to harm or kill a snake, do some simple research and learn more about the creature who’s life you are preparing to end.
BTW, yes I have been bitten by a Rattlesnake and no, I did not kill it in vengeance – in fact, I let it go so it could eat more rodents. Oh and thank you science for saving the finger that I am using to type these words with antivenin derived from snake venom and the findings of science.
I leave you with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated. “

Earthshine Nature Programs Fall Benefit Events

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BENEFIT EVENT #1

Date: October 01, 2016

Time: 1-4pm

  Location: SANCTUARY BREWING COMPANY Hendersonville, NC

BENEFIT EVENT #2

Date: October 03, 2016

Time: 5-8pm

Location: OSKAR BLUES BREWERY

Brevard, NC

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Come to one or both events, bring the family and friends and join us as Sanctuary and Oskar Blues as both wonderful establishments will be donating a portion of taproom sales during the events to 

Earthshine Nature Programs! 

Learn all about our wildlife education, rehabilitation, conservation, outreach, science and renewable energy programming. 

Meet many of our education animals including Rex and Rosie the Tortoises, Scar and Slip the Rat snakes, and Ashley the Boa Constrictor and more!

Help us raise funds for our newest project at our science, nature and wildlife rehabilitation and conservation center – a 5.3 kW solar energy system that will help us power most of the heating, lighting, and habitat life support systems for our education and rehabilitation animals as well as and the lighting, audio visual and computing systems for our classroom…and charge our all electric Nissan Leaf outreach vehicle with 100% renewably generated power from the sun!

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*Learn more about our solar energy project in the detailed description at the bottom of this blog post*

Meet special guest Pierce Curren of TV’s Scaly Adventures and hear all about his adventures with his family sharing his love of reptiles and nature with everyone he meets! 

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Local artists will be on hand offering their unique wildlife and nature themed art, photography, and jewelry with a portion of the proceeds directly supporting our work. 

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Steve and friends will start off the event with a one of a kind music jam with indigenous instruments such as the didgeridoo, flute and drum.  If you play, please bring an instrument and join in on the fun!

At the Oskar Blues event we will also have an Electric Vehicle car show where you can learn all about and maybe even take a ride in an electric car!  Members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club will have several sleek EVs on display including possibly the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and BMW i3 on display!

Come learn how you can go electric and kick gas! 

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All donations to our 501c3 are tax deductible.

Receive updates from our programs on Facebook at Earthshine Nature Programs and on the Earthshine Nature Blog at www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

If you are unable to make it to one of our fundraisers and would still like to support us, please feel free to visit our Amazon wishlist or the donate page on our website where you will find a Paypal donate link.

THANK YOU

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Earthshine Nature Programs is a 501c3 nonprofit wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, nature and science education organization, and is a separate business entity from Earthshine Discovery Center.


Please support our

Solar Energy Project

Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3) and Trails Science is working to develop an environmental education classroom and wildlife rehabilitation facility that is powered by the sun!  Our goal with this project is to drastically reduce our carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels by taking advantage of the most renewable energy source – our nearest star.

This 5.3 kilowatt photovoltaic solar array will not only supply our classroom with renewably generated power but it will be a bold teaching tool for the students of Trails Carolina, The Academy at Trails Carolina, and our visitors. It will offer our students a myriad of learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, environmental education, and conservation courses. It will also provide web interface technologies that will allow the system to be monitored in real-time by students in class or from anywhere on the planet!

Once online, this solar farm will not only provide much of the power used by the science classroom but it will also provide enough solar generated electricity to power our nonprofit outreach vehicle, an all-electric Nissan Leaf.

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Our students and visitors will benefit greatly from the applied use of renewable energy technologies in class by experiencing the first hand functioning of real world, renewable energy applications such as solar-electric power, and electric vehicles.  In our unique solar powered science classroom they will bust through the negative myths often associated with these technologies by assisting with the maintenance of, and studying of the most up-to-date systems in class and on class field trips to local renewable energy installations and events.  After leaving Trails our graduates will be more up to date, connected, and ready to accept the reality of, and make use of, sustainable clean energy power and transportation systems to power their lives and their futures.

To make this grand vision a reality we have partnered with Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute (BBSI) in Towensend, Tennessee with the goal to install a state of the art off-grid solar array that will allow the Trails Science and Nature Center to one day become fully self-powered by the sun!

The students and I have already begun site preparations and will begin installing the solar array in the early fall of 2016 and depending on granting/donation support we hope to have the system online by mid-November if not before.

The following outline shows what components we have already received and the yet to be sourced components.  Two of the three primary components needed to make this project a reality have already been donated – they include;

1.The Solar Modules (Panels). 22 240watt solar modules – Donated by Frank Marshall of FLS Energy, a local utility scale solar installation company in Asheville, NC.  Approximate value: $10,000

2.The charge controllers.  Two (2) Morningstar 600 Volt charge controllers with DC disconnects – Donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Towensend Tennessee. Value: $3,600. These devices will monitor the output of the solar modules and the needs of the batteries and regulate the power as the batteries need it.  They are “smart” devices so we will be able to monitor their status from anywhere with an internet connection.

3.Electrical Panels, Wiring and Conduit for Solar Control System. Donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Towensend Tennessee. Value: $600.00

4.Aluminum Racking for solar panels. Donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Towensend Tennessee. Value: $3,922

Our remaining needs to make this classroom solar project a reality

  1. The battery storageyet to be acquired. This project will rely on 24 Trojan T145 EHPT 6 Volt golf cart batteries to store power for use at night and on cloudy days.

trojan

Need: 24 Trojan T145 EHPT 6 volt batteries. Estimated cost: $5256.  Donate via our wish list on Amazon or special ordered locally from Batteries+Bulbs in Asheville to save on shipping costs.

2. The power inverteryet to be acquired.

The remaining primary component for this system to work as planned is the power inverter.  This device ties everything together, converts DC to AC power, and is the “brains” of the system keeping everything that needs power running smoothly and efficiently.

inverter

Need: 1 Aims 6000 Watt 48V Pure Sine Power Inverter / Grid Charger / Transfer Switch PICOGLF60W48V

Cost: $1392.00 via: http://invertersrus.com/product/aims-picoglf60w48v120v/

You may also donate this unit using our wishlist on Amazon.com

 

3. AIMS Power Remote Switch with LCD Monitoring Screen

This device will allow the students and I to monitor the solar power system remotely from the classroom.

remote

Cost $139.00

Donate via our Amazon wish list.

 

  1. Hidden Costs: $2,500 – These are the unseen costs that will inevitably come up during construction and upgrades to the ENP/Trails Science and Nature Center. Should this not be needed immediately, it will be deposited into the ENP account and used for future needs.

Primary Supporters of Our Solar Project

Black Bear Solar Institute

Bob Harris – Executive Director

www.blackbearsolarinstitute.org

Bob Harris:bob.harris@blackbearsolarinstitute.org

Bob understands the value solar holds to the future and has generously donated many of the components needed to construct this system as well as new, energy efficient computers for the classroom and is providing pro bono guidance, technical expertise, and installation assistance to see this project to fruition.

FLS Energy

www.flsenergy.com

Frank Marshall: frank@flsenergy.com

Frank has graciously taken my students and I on guided tours of local grid scale solar installations that his company has installed for Duke Energy.  He also sees the value in supporting solar energy education for our students and has generously donated 20 new 240 watt solar modules to our classroom’s solar project.

Jim Hardy

Jim is a master carpenter, passionate educator, Sierra Club member and founder of Charge Transylvania County.  Jim is also a wildlife advocate and drives a fully electric vehicle.  Jim will also be providing pro bono guidance, construction technical expertise, and installation assistance to see this project to fruition.

Email: jh3@citcom.net

 Trails Carolina

Supports the project and its great value to the students and the organization.

 The Academy at Trails Carolina

Supports the project and its great value to the students and the organization.

Jewell Mimms donated $1000 – THANK YOU!!

DONATION PERKS

Option 1: Donate to our project and be part of something amazing that will truly make a difference in the education of countless students, campers, and visitors to our science and nature center over the lifetime of the project!

In our great and humble thanks to those that have and will assist us with this grand education and conservation undertaking, the students and I will create a one of a kind informational plaque that outlines the benefits of the project, all the student groups that worked together to construct the project, and lists all of the primary supporters* of the project.  The large version of this plaque will forever be proudly displayed on the solar array for all future students and visitors to see.  A smaller version of the plaque will also be permanently mounted in the classroom alongside the solar array’s information and monitoring station.

SUPPORTER DONATION LEVELS

Level 1. Up to $100  Charged Particle

Level 1. $100 – $200  Shiny Soldier*

Level 2. $200 – $500   Captain Photon*

Level 3. $500 – $1000   Ray of Hope*

Level 4. $1000 – $5000  Enlightened Provider*

Level 5. $5000 and up!     Lord of Light and Wonder*

As stated above all primary supporters* (unless you choose to opt out) will have their names listed on the solar array commemorative plaques as well as having your names listed on our website and a spacial blog posting.

Option 2 – BONUS PERK: Those that donate $500 or more will receive your choice of either beautiful custom made locally crafted jewelry and/or artwork made with fragments of actual solar cells similar to the ones used in the construction of our solar array.  These solar cell fragments are the remains of a very successful classroom solar pilot project that the students and I conducted over two years ago. This project created two student built small solar panels that are still online and providing clean power to one of our animal habitats to this day.  This small array will be coupled with the large array to provide even more power to our systems when all is complete.

These one of a kind items will take the form of either;

-Earrings

-Tie/Lapel pin

-Paperweight

-Mixed media artwork

-A combination of the above listed perks

-Or you may submit your own custom suggestion

NOTE: Perks to be granted to supporters after the project officially goes online.

 

________________________________________________________________

 

A note from ENP Executive Director Steve O’Neil 

I am passionate about sharing my love, curiosity, fascination, and respect for nature, wildlife and wild places with everyone I meet – especially my classroom and outreach programming students and participants.  It is the students and children of today that will make the big wildlife, nature, science, and energy decisions of the future.  It is my goal to give them the best possible unbiased, science supported, exposure to the best ethics and best practices of these most important disciplines so they will be better informed and ready to change the world for the better as they mature.   

I feel that by demonstrating what is possible, and working together toward the common goal of creating and maintaining a better world for all living things today and into the future by using clean technologies that are readily available to us, we will be able to make all of our dreams come true for the betterment and health of us all and in support of the planet that supports us.  

I am working very hard to complete all of these upgrades and enhancements under my very small wildlife, nature and science conservation, education, and outreach organization Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3) (Tax ID 27-3465594) which is supported primarily through monetary, resource, and time donations from concerned individuals just like you. To cover the remaining costs I am working on acquiring donations from any and all sources that would like to support us. 

Please consider supporting us in any way you are able.  If you are unable to support us at this time please, if you know of any possible monetary or component donation sources and/or granting options please do share this document with them.   

Every little bit helps us get closer to our grand goals that will serve to upgrade our education animal habitats, classroom equipment, power our education facility and outreach vehicle via the endless energy from the sun, and most importantly – educate and inspire middle and high school aged children on the proper respect and understanding of wildlife and wild places and the wise and responsible application of clean energy resources that we can all use to provide for, and empower our shared futures together on spaceship earth. 

Sincerely,

Steve O’Neil

Executive Director of Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3)

and

Naturalist with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina

www.earthshinenature.com

(828) 606-8939

134 E. Dogwood Lane

Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

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Wish List 2016 – please help us continue to make it all happen!

21 Sep

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Our tax ID: 27-3465594

Updated 9-23-16

It takes a lot of work to keep a non-profit dedicated to wildlife conservation, rescue and rehabilitation,  science and renewable energy education running smoothly.

From animal feed and healthcare to habitat and life support systems maintenance, and special projects…all of these things add up to make our science and nature center a truly one of a kind education facility that makes a great difference in the lives and futures of our animals and our students–the future caretakers of our fragile shared earth.

We also share a wonderful partnership with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina in which we provide daily nature, science, and environmental education classes to their student populations of at-risk middle and high school age boys and girls.  Your support will directly support these students in their growth, appreciation, understanding and support of themselves and in turn the wild places and wild things we share this beautiful planet with.

To make this happen we need your help.

All donations of new or used equipment and/or funds are tax deductible and if requested, a receipt will be provided for your records.

Our current wishlist consists of major habitat, education and infrastructure supporting items.  The components we are in need of are listed below with links to the items should you decide to help us shorten our wishlist.

If you choose to support us anonymously, you may do so by using our Amazon Wish List  , PayPal link on our donate page.

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IMMEDIATE NEEDS

Education Animal Habitat Supplies

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Some of our most popular and most environmentally sensitive education animals are our Eastern hellbenders – “Gollum and Smeagol.”  They are ambassadors for their species, which is listed as special concern over most parts of its range.  They are in dire need of life support system upgrades for their 125 gallon mountain stream habitat.  The components we need are listed below with links to sources where they may be acquired. 


 New aquarium water chiller for Eastern Hellbender Habitat

 chiller

Hellbenders have strict habitat requirements and a constant cool water temperature is at the top of the list.  This unit will replace the older, secondhand, home-built, age unknown, chiller unit with this new, more energy efficient and reliable unit for our most sensitive animal habitat.

Our chiller of choice would be this model  or you can donate a similar unit via our wishlist on Amazon.com

*For more on the Hellbender watch the beautiful short film The Last Dragons.* 


New canister filter for the Hellbender Habitat

Hellbenders need exceptionally clean water so an excellent water filtration system is a must. Our current filter is over 10 years old and suffers from occasional age related issues.  

filter

 UPDATE: DONATED by an anonymous donor

THANK YOU!!!


Classroom supplies 

The Earthshine Nature Programs (ENP) outreach team visits many local camps, schools, private organizations and public festivals in order to fulfill its nature and science education mission.  ENP’s Executive Director Steve O’Neil also has a full time partnership with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina where he teaches twice daily, three hour long classes for the student populations from both schools. Although the schools supply him with the use of a building and many wonderful educational materials and training, Steve always goes above and beyond to supply what he believes is the “icing on the cake” with more interesting and unique educational materials for many of his class programs and special projects.  He covers the cost of these educational offerings via funds raised through ENP programming and often out of pocket.  These items then become property of ENP and will be used in outreach activities and classes while Steve is employed by Trails for many, many years to come.  However, in the unlikely event something changes with his teaching position with Trails, the 501c3 will then own these supplies and Steve will then be able to take his educational materials with him to another education institution and continue programming at that location.  It is for these reasons Steve is seeking the below donations to his classroom environment.


48″ HD Flatscreen “Smart” TV

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UPDATE: DONATED in May 2016

by Executive Director Steve O’Neil 

THANK YOU!

This unit replaced our ageing and very energy consumptive data projector and 1980’s era movie screen with an energy star listed HD TV that we will use for all data projection and documentaries shown in class.  This unit will also be connected to the AmScope microscope (listed below) allowing an entire class to view what the microscope is”seeing.”  It will also be connected to one of the previously donated computers and ISS Above unit for screening educational material in class.


“Dissection” style microscope with HD camera and USB connectivity

scope

 

This amazing microscope will be connected to the flat screen TV allowing the entire class

to view what the microscope is viewing.

AmScope microscope with digital camera attachment

model# SM-1TSW2-L6W-5M or donate a similar unit via our wishlist on Amazon.com


ISS Above 

issabove

“The ISS-Above is a fun and educational device that connects people to the International Space Station, and specifically to the humans on board. Our mission is to bring this magnificent human scientific achievement into your home, schools and offices and to inspire awe in the beauty and fragility of the planet we call home.”

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The view from the live camera aboard the International Space Station

UPDATE: DONATED in June 2016

by an anonymous donor.

THANK YOU!


Whiteboard

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LUXOR MB7240WW (or comparable) Reversible Magnetic Whiteboard or you can donate a similar unit via our wishlist on Amazon.com

———————————————————

Acer Laptop Computer

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UPDATE:  DONATED!  In July 2016 not one but FOUR new computers were donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute and Siemens Corporation.–WOW!!

THANK YOU Bob Harris, BBSI and Siemens!! 


Outdoor Classroom Gazebo 

We  would really love to have an outdoor space for our students to engage in nature study, quiet contemplation, and meetings with therapists and visiting naturalists.  The below gazebo is similar to what we have in mind but we are open to anything.

gazebo

UPDATE: DONATED by the Carnahans in August 2016!

THANK YOU!!


Field Science/Natural Resource Management and  

Conservation Project Upgrades 

Trails Science/ENP is conducting unique wildlife conservation focused student/citizen science field research projects.  These projects are working to learn as much as possible about the natural movements of wild Eastern box turtles and Rat snakes that live in association with areas frequently used and modified by humans.  These projects serve to educate our students and other participants (and viewers/readers via our web based outreach) on the biology, life history, and intrinsic beauty and value of these often very misunderstood creatures and their important interconnections to healthy ecosystems, a healthy earth, and healthy humans.  These projects are collecting meaningful, scientific data on the ecology and life history of these animals.

Tracking Catherine!

This data will directly benefit the conservation of these species for many years to come and more importantly, inspire young people to respect and love wildlife and nature and want to preserve and protect it forever.


Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Meter

kest

We would like to acquire a Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Meter to allow higher quality weather data measurement at the time of each study animal’s location.

 You may also donate this unit using our wishlist on Amazon.com


GPS Unit

gps

Our current GPS unit is over 10 years old and not very accurate so we are in need an up to date GPS for our reptile conservation programs.

 You may also donate this unit using our wishlist on Amazon.com


CLASSROOM SOLAR ARRAY

Our most ambitious project so far!

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Earthshine Nature Programs and Trails Science is working to develop an environmental education classroom and wildlife rehabilitation facility that is powered by the sun!  Our goal with this project is to drastically reduce our carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels by taking advantage of the most renewable energy source – our nearest star.

This 5.3 kilowatt photovoltaic solar array will not only supply our classroom with renewably generated power but it will be a bold teaching tool for the students of Trails Carolina, The Academy at Trails Carolina, and our visitors. It will offer our students a myriad of learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, environmental education, and conservation courses. It will also provide web interface technologies that will allow the system to be monitored in real-time by students in class or from anywhere on the planet!

Once online, this solar farm will not only provide much of the power used by the science classroom but it will also provide enough solar generated electricity to power our nonprofit outreach vehicle, an all-electric Nissan Leaf.  That is our Leaf in the below photo at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI).

leafpari13

Our students and visitors will benefit greatly from the applied use of renewable energy technologies in class by experiencing the first hand functioning of real world, renewable energy applications such as solar-electric power, and electric vehicles.  In our unique solar powered science classroom they will bust through the negative myths often associated with renewable energy and electric vehicles by assisting with the maintenance of, and studying of the most up-to-date technologies in class.  After leaving Trails our graduates will be more up to date, connected, and ready to accept the reality of, and make use of, sustainable clean energy power and transportation systems to power their lives and their futures.

To make this grand vision a reality we have partnered with Black Bear Solar Institute (BBSI) in Towensend, Tennessee with the goal to install a state of the art off-grid solar array that will allow the Trails Science and Nature Center to one day become fully self-powered by the sun!

The students and I have already begun site preparations and will begin installing the solar array in the early fall of 2016 and depending on granting/donation support we hope to have the system online by mid-November if not before.

The following outline shows what components we have already received and the yet to be sourced components.  Four of the six primary components needed to make this project a reality have already been donated – they include;

1.The Solar Panels. 22 240watt solar modules – Donated by FLS Energy, a local utility scale solar installation company from Asheville, NC.  Approximate value: $10,000
2.The charge controllers.  Two (2) Morningstar 600 Volt charge controllers with DC disconnects – Donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Towensend Tennessee. Value: $3,600. These devices will monitor the output of the solar panels and the needs of the batteries and regulate the power as the batteries need it.  They are “smart” devices so we will be able to monitor their status from anywhere with an internet connection.
3.Electrical Panels, Wiring and Conduit for Solar Control System. Donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Towensend Tennessee. Value: $600.00

4.Aluminum Racking for solar panels. Donated by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Towensend Tennessee. Value: $3,922


Remaining Needs for Solar Project

1.The battery storage – yet to be acquired. This project will rely on 24 Trojan T145 EHPT 6 Volt golf cart batteries to store power for use at night and on cloudy days.  Need: 24 Trojan T145 EHPT 6 volt batteries.

trojan

Donate via our wish list on Amazon or special ordered locally from Batteries+Bulbs in Asheville to save on shipping costs.


2. The power inverter – yet to be acquired.

inverter

The remaining primary component for this system to work as planned is the power inverter.  This device ties everything together, converts DC to AC power and is the “brains” of the system.  Need: 1 Aims 6000 Watt 48V Pure Sine Power Inverter / Grid Charger / Transfer Switch

 Via: http://invertersrus.com/product/aims-picoglf60w48v120v/

 You may also donate this unit using our wishlist on Amazon.com


Other needs to make it all a reality.

Hidden Costs: $2,500  – these are the unseen costs that will come up during construction and upgrades to the ENP/Trails Science and Nature Center.  Should this not be needed immediately, it will be deposited into the ENP account and used for future needs.

 


 

Primary Supporters of Our Solar Project

Black Bear Solar Institute

Bob Harris – Executive Director

www.blackbearsolarinstitute.org

Bob Harris: bob.harris@blackbearsolarinstitute.org

*Donated many of the components needed to construct this system and new, energy efficient computers for the classroom and providing pro bono guidance, technical expertise, and installation assistance.

FLS Energy

www.flsenergy.com

Frank Marshall: frank@flsenergy.com

*Donated 22 new 240 watt solar modules.

Jim Hardy

Master carpenter, passionate educator, and founder of Charge Transylvania County Providing construction and installation assistance.

Email: jh3@citcom.net

 Trails Carolina

Supports the project and its great value to the students and the organization

 The Academy at Trails Carolina

Supports the project and its great value to the students and the organization

Jewell Mimms donated $1000 – THANK YOU!!

After our classroom’s solar energy project is complete, the students and I will create an informational plaque that outlines the benefits of the array, the student groups that worked to make it happen, and all of the project’s supporters that worked with us to make it a reality.  This plaque will forever be proudly displayed on the array for all future students and visitors to see.


A note from ENP Executive Director Steve O’Neil

I am working very hard to complete all of these upgrades and enhancements under my very small wildlife, nature and science conservation, education and outreach organization Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3) (Tax ID 27-3465594) which is supported primarily through monetary, resource, and time donations from concerned individuals just like you. To cover the remaining costs I am working on acquiring grants and donations from any and all sources that would like to support us.

This is the master needs list that I would like to see become reality for the betterment of our students, outreach program participants, and education animals now, and for many years into the future.

Please consider supporting us in any way you are able.  If you are unable to support us at this time please, if you know of any possible monetary or component donation sources and/or granting options please do share this document with them.  Every little bit helps us get closer to our grand goals that will serve to upgrade our animal habitats, classroom, and research equipment, and power the ENP/Trails Science and Nature Center and outreach vehicle via the endless energy from the sun and most importantly – educate and inspire thousands of middle and high school aged children and adults on the proper respect and understanding of wildlife and wild places and the responsible, clean energy sources we can all use to provide for and empower our shared futures.

I am passionate about sharing my love, curiosity, and respect for nature, wildlife and wild places with everyone I meet – especially my classroom and outreach programming students and participants.  It is the students and children of today that will make the big wildlife, nature, science and energy decisions of the future, and it is my goal to give them the best possible exposure to the best ethics and practices and leading renewable energy technologies so that they will be better informed and ready to change the world for the better.  I feel that by demonstrating what is possible and working together toward the common goal of creating and maintaining a better world for all living things today and into the future, we will be able to make all of our dreams come true for the betterment of us all and for the earth that supports us.  

Sincerely,

Steve O’Neil

Executive Director of Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3)

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Naturalist with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina

www.earthshinenature.com

Email: http://www.earthshine.nature@gmail.com

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THANK YOU!

 

 

 

Snake Tracks Field Report for Spring-Fall 2015 Special Extended Edition Part 1

8 Jul

This 2.5 hour special extended edition of Rat Snake Tracks was filmed over the spring-summer-fall of 2015.

The Snake Tracks project is an ongoing Rat snake habitat use and movement study using radio telemetry techniques and UAV’s (drones) for canopy surveys and monitoring.

If you were a student at Trails Carolina or the Academy at Trails Carolina during the 2015 season you may have helped “Science Steve” locate Apollo or Master Splinter the Black Rat snakes and you may be in this movie, behind the camera, learning and living 🙂
If you do not want to view the video in its entirety (although I wish you would for the sake of education and science) just use the index at the beginning of the video to skip forward to the dates you were here or to view chosen segments.
This project is supported by in part by Trails Carolina, The Academy at Trails Carolina, our donors, and people just like you. If you would like to support our projects and programs with a donation and learn more about us please visit our website.

Earthshine Nature Programs is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to wildlife conservation, rehabilitation, science and renewable energy education and awareness.

Rat Snake Tracks Field Update for 3 – 8 – 16

9 Mar

THANK YOU!!!

8 Mar

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THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SUPPORTERS DURING 2015!

Without your support, Earthshine Nature Programs and the Trails Science program would simply not function.  This year you helped to make possible the following and so much more! 

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The first turtle rehab of the year going home in May of 2015 with the turtle friend who found him with an upper respiratory infection in the fall of 2014!

Wildlife Rehabilitation: Over the last year the students, volunteers, interns, and I rescued, rehabilitated and returned to the wild several box turtles, one young Opossum, one young Rat snake, and one Timber rattlesnake that had been injured in encounters with humans and our machines or, in the case of the rattlesnake,  found itself in a place that was dangerous to humans and to the snake.   

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Another turtle rescuer and the turtle she rescued at the turtle’s release day back home in her habitat! 

Outreach: We took our wildlife and nature conservation animal ambassadors, our didgeridoo music, and our electric car and solar energy demonstrations into many classrooms, summer camps, one church, and several festivals and special events, introducing thousands of children and adults to the wonders and beauty of wildlife, nature, science, and our interconnectedness to our shared Earth – and ways to take better care of our shared environment through wildlife conservation, science, and “off-the-shelf” renewable energy and transportation technologies.

Take a look at some photos from our adventures in 2015! 

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Meeting new friends at our summer fundraiser at Oskar Blues in Pisgah Forest

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We just LOVE snakes!

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Art, animals and EV’s – what a great mix!

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Pete and his hawk stopped by to visit!

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Walter Kidd of Serpentarium Magic was all smiles!

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The crew at LEAF festival!

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More snakes and electric vehicles!

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And another great LEAF festival shot!

Wildlife Conservation: We continued to follow in the Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks of the Eastern box turtles at the Earthshine Discovery Center and two Rat snakes at the Trails Science and Nature center.

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In the spring of 2015 we received an amazing donation of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle UAV (aka “drone”) – THANK YOU Nickolas! We have used the UAV to survey the treetops for basking radio-tagged Rat snakes in order to learn more about their activities and habitat selections and get a birds-eye view of the habitats of all of the animals we are following.

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Below is a photo of the habitat of the box turtles Catherine and Jimmy Irwin and the Timber rattlesnakes Zoe and Utsanati–WOW!

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This past spring we completed our four year radio tracking study on Timber Rattlesnakes in a remote forest of western North Carolina and soon we will post the “short report” of our preliminary findings on this blog so stay tuned and follow us to learn more!

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Renewable Energy:  With the amazing support from Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute, FLS Energy, and local nature, renewable energy and EV advocate Jim Hardy, we are working toward a day in the near future when we will power our science and nature center and our outreach vehicle (an all electric Nissan Leaf) on 100% solar power generated on site!  Read more about this unique and amazing project and how you can be a part of it!

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Your Support: We welcome your continued support in helping us keep our programming alive.  If you are interested in gifting us any of the items on our wishlist, please contact us for more information on how to support us.   If you choose to support us anonymously, you may do so by visiting our PayPal link.

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A rare Green Salamander we found behind the nature and science center in the summer!

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A new friend!          

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Jim and Pete with friends!

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Jack smiles for the camera!

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New life is born!

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Gollum says goodbye 🙂

THANK YOU so much for your continued support.  Without you, Earthshine Nature Programs and the Trails Science program would not function.  Please consider making a tax deductible donation to us now and in the future.  Earthshine Nature Programs is a 501c3, donation funded, volunteer owned and operated, wildlife conservation, rehabilitation and science education charity.  We have a partnership with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Academy to provide science and nature education and inspiration to their populations of outstanding youth.   

Learn more about us:  www.earthshinenature.com

Find us on Facebook at:  “Earthshine Nature Programs”

Watch our nature video series on Youtube.  

Follow our Electric Vehicle Blog.

Contact us: earthshine.nature@gmail.com

The ENP Summer 2015 Fundraiser was a great success!

22 Jul

The Summer 2015 Earthshine Nature Programs benefit event at Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, North Carolina was a wonderful success!

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THANK YOU to OSKAR BLUES for hosting us for Making a Difference Monday!

THANK YOU to everyone who came out on a scorching hot Monday evening to meet the animals, learn, laugh, take rides in electric vehicles, eat tacos and tamales and drink a few cold ones in support of our wildlife and nature conservation and education projects and programs!

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THANK YOU to all of our wonderful volunteers including but not limited to Marian, Jim Hardy , Alice and Rachel, Timmie Hoffman , Kellie Burgess, Mark Allison, Dave Ward, Christina A. Ramsey Robert Zieber, Patricia Bass, Robert Bass, William Bruce, Joe Baum, Robert Schultz, and any others that I have failed to mention that worked with us to make this happen.

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THANK YOU to our loyal supporters, friends from Brevard and Hendersonville and co-workers from Earthshine Discovery Center and Trails Carolina Therapeutic Wilderness Program and The Academy at Trails Carolina who came out in droves and even mailed in donations to us so we can continue our most important mission into the future.

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THANK YOU to local artists Christina Ramsey, Kathy Hardy, Steve Atkins of Fox Cove Photography and Jenny Geer-Hardwick who donated their beautiful creations to our nature store to help us raise much needed funds (there are still a few items available for purchase so email me for a list and photos of the amazing items we have yet to find homes for and I will send you photos and descriptions of everything that remains in our nature store.)

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THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU for working with me to make a difference on this Monday evening! You are all AWESOME and I am honored and privileged to know you and call you my friends.

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Look for another Making a Difference Monday in support of Earthshine Nature Programs in 2016!

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You can still support Earthshine Nature Programs with a donation through pay pal at this link.

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View the entire photo album on Facebook by following this link:

ENP is running in the Mad Mountain Mud Run for the 3rd year in a row!

26 May

That’s right, Earthshine Nature Programs Executive Director Steve O’Neil and Team Earthshine Nature Nerds will be running again this year in the Mad Mountain Mud Run 5K in Hendersonville, NC on Saturday May 30th, 2015!

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For 2015 the Nature Nerds will be sharing the muddy trail with The Trails Turbo Turtles!  The Turbo Turtles consist of several Steve’s students and staff of The Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Carolina!  Captain Steve will be overall captain of both the Nature Nerds and the Turbo Turtles.

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Many of the Turbo Turtles are experienced runners, hikers, Mtn. bikers and climbers so do not let the name fool you–the Turbo Turtles are a force of nature and may just take overall best time in the Mud Run!

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Our nerdy nature goal is to run representing Earthshine Nature Programs as our 2015 spring fundraiser.  To do this we need sponsors that are willing to support Earthshine Nature Programs with a pledge.  Your pledge will provide direct and 100% support to our environmental science education and wildlife rehabilitation and conservation programs and projects.

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Our muddy community goal is to run in support of the Hands On A Child’s Gallery based in Hendersonville, NC and Trails Carolina/The Academy at Trails Carolina with our afternoon of challenging obstacles and muddy fun!

Last year and this year the students and I have constructed an obstacle for the Mud Run — take a look at a few photos of this years obstacle that we call the ENP/Trails Turbo Tunnels!!

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Take a look at the course map for a taste of what we may have in store for us this year!  It should be a muddy fun challenge!

 

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Sponsor Awards

Any donation is welcome and needed however…

Those who sponsor ENP with $50 or more will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), and on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race.

Those who sponsor us for $500 or more will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race, four custom designed ENP Medici Lighted writing Pens from Myron.com, your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom award (made by Steve) which includes a certificate of appreciation and small glass vial filled with a small amount of the actual mud from the race course that we will run through on May 30 th!

Those who sponsor us for $1000 or more will receive will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race, six custom designed ENP Medici Lighted writing Pens from Myron.com,  your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom award (made by Steve) which includes a certificate of appreciation and small glass vial filled with a small amount of the actual mud from the race course that we will run through on May 31st! On top of all that Steve and his animals will come to you and present a private Misunderstand Wildlife animal show with live animals and a didgeridoo concert at your birthday party, school or other gathering!

*You can opt-out of having your personal/company information publicized on our shirts/websites if you choose.

An awesome mud covered photo from the end of the 2015

Mad Mountain Mud Run.

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A great muddy moment from the 2013 Mud Run!

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The nitty gritty muddy dirt of the sponsorship (rules)

After the Earthshine Nature Nerds/Trails Turbo Turtles team completes the race–all sponsored pledges will be collected from the sponsors by June 15th, 2013.  Supporter awards will be awarded within 60 days following the race.

If the Earthshine Nature Nerds/Trails Turbo turtles does not complete the race–no donations will be collected unless you choose to support us despite the fact.

If the race is cancelled due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control you may choose to honor your sponsorship agreement or not.  100% of all donations will be used to provide direct support to our environmental science and wildlife rehabilitation/conservation projects and programs.

You may earmark your donations to the following projects:

Project A: Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle radio telemetry project: currently radio tracking four wild Eastern box turtles at Earthshine Discovery Center and The Academy at Trails Carolina. Two of these turtles are part of the ongoing (since 2008) Turtle Tracks project at Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway, NC.  The other two turtles are part of a hands-on wildlife science class led by Steve for the Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Wilderness students.

Project B:  Snake Tracks  – Ratsnake Tracks. A radio telemetry project  tracking two large Black rat snakes at The Academy at Trails Carolina.  This will be part of a hands-on citizen and student science class led by Steve for the Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Wilderness students.

Projects A-B are most important wildlife science and conservation projects seeking to learn as much as possible about the natural movements of some of nature’s most misunderstood creatures.  Data collected during these projects will directly benefit the greater understanding and conservation of not only box turtles and Rat snakes but all reptiles for many years to come.  These projects also directly benefit the continuing hands-on education of middle and high school age youth–the future of all wildlife conservation.

Project C: Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation: ongoing support of our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation activities that works primarily with the Eastern box turtle and Opossum.

Project D: General program support.  Examples include–animal care, habitat construction and project support: this covers all costs that are not directly part of or that cross over between all of the above listed programs.  Example: radio telemetry equipment,  foods, housing, vitamins, and medications for our resident and rehab animals,  rechargeable batteries, camera equipment etc.

If you do not earmark your donation it will be used where it is most needed in one or more of the above programs.

If you would like to sponsor our team please contact me and we will make arrangements or feel free to donate now via the Earthshine Nature Pay Pal account.

You may sponsor us with either monetary pledges or supplies.  If you would like to pledge supplies please contact us for a list of our current needs.

Below are some of our past sponsors and supporters

THANK YOU All!

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No matter if you choose to support us or not,  please do come out to Berkley Park and watch all of the mud runners get muddy and have fun for a couple of great causes–the education of children and conservation of wildlife and nature!

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If you know anyone who may like to support ENP with a sponsorship or donation please forward this post on to them–THANK YOU!

After last year’s Mud Run we were all smiles–it was great fun!

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NOTE: The Nature Nerds will video/photograph their perspective of the race using the latest technology including an HD GoPro camera and several volunteer friends with cameras stationed around the race course so that this years nerdy muddy experience will be able to be shared by all!  A few weeks following the race look for the video to be posted here on the ENP Nature Blog!

Take a look at last years race video below!

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THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!

That’s all for now…I need to go train!

Steve O’Neil, ENP Executive Director and Mad Mountain Mud Runner

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Earthshine Nature Programs is not responsible for or affiliated with ads that may appear below this line.

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