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JOIN US for our SPRING BENEFIT EVENT!

17 Mar

Date: April 16, 2018 

Location: Oskar Blues Brewery – Brevard, NC

Time: 5-8:30 PM

Earthshine Nature Programs* (ENP) is a volunteer operated wildlife and environmental education and conservation and renewable energy outreach education nonprofit (501c3) based out of Pisgah Forest, NC. It is operated by its founder and Executive Director Steve O’Neil.  Steve is on a mission to connect people with nature and wildlife and in doing so he works to foster a renewed curiosity in the natural world that supports us all.  

Through his hands-on wildlife and nature outreach programming at camps, schools, birthday parties and special events in the region, to his unique experiential citizen science-based projects and experiences in his classes, Steve strives to educate and inspire his students and people of all ages to get excited about nature, wildlife, the sciences, and above all else – caring for, and becoming better stewards of the fragile natural environment that supports us all.

Steve is also a full-time naturalist and environmental science educator at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum near Brevard, NC where he and his students and interns care for a menagerie of animal ambassadors, most of which are ex-pets and non-releasable wildlife.  Some of these animals were once wild but after surviving run-ins with cars, dogs and habitat loss, were rehabilitated by Steve (an NC licensed wildlife rehabilitator), his students, and volunteer staff.  These animals are housed in the rustic log cabin Science and Nature Education Center classroom that is also the office of Steve’s nonprofit. 

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Gollum the Eastern Hellbender – one of Steve’s animal ambassadors.

Steve is an avid supporter of renewable energy – especially solar – and he supports the great need for trusting the findings of science to facilitate the final goal of transitioning of our society away from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and renewably powered electric vehicles for the sake of our health, the health of our shared environment, and future generations of life on Planet Earth.

Working toward that grand goal, over the last few months Steve and his students, and Pisgah Forest resident and environmental hero Jim Hardy, finished Phase One of the construction of a grid-tied solar power station that now provides 5.3 kW of clean solar produced electricity for Steve’s log cabin classroom and the ENP nonprofit office. 

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This array was constructed from donated components and in-kind donations from generous local individuals and businesses as well as great support and expertise from Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute in Townsend, Tennessee.  

View the construction of our solar array in the video below. 

Phase One of this student-built solar array is now complete and online; however, it provides only around 5.3 kW of electricity or 50-60% of the power needed to operate the building.  To provide 100% of the power needed for all our daily needs we are now working on Phase Two of our classroom solar project.  Phase Two consists of 10 more solar modules, their support frame and wiring totaling around 3.0 kW of solar.  To date, we have raised around 35% of the funds needed to complete Phase Two and it is for this reason that we will be holding a fundraiser on April 16th at: 

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Bring the family and friends and join us as Oskar Blues hosts their Making a Difference Monday fundraiser for

Earthshine Nature Programs 

Between the hours of noon and 8:00pm Oskar Blues will donate a percentage of taproom sales to Earthshine Nature Programs!  Proceeds from this fundraiser will support Phase Two of the construction of our student built and maintained classroom solar array project. Learn more about this community supported renewable energy project by reading the full story on my previous blog post linked below:

https://earthshinenature.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/update-enptrails-classroom-solar-project-phase-one-is-complete/

Watch a video of the day we first activated our classroom solar array last summer!

Now that you know how and why we did it, please come out in support of making it even better with Phase Two of our classroom solar project!

At our benefit event you will learn all about our wildlife education, rehabilitation and outreach programming and interact with many of our friendly education animals including Rosie, Rex, and Charlie the Red-foot Tortoises, Ashley the Red Tailed Boa Constrictor, Fiona the Ball Python and Piggy the Western Hognose snake.

We are working on having several Special Guests!

(these could change but may include) 

Peter Kipp of Curtis Wright Falconry with his birds of prey!  Get your photo made with a bird of prey sitting on your hand!

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Meet Walter Kidd of Serpentarium Magic and Peewee the 22 foot long python!

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Meet members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club and learn all about and possibly take a ride in an electric car! The Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle club will have several sleek, fast, EVs on display including the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S & X, BMW i3, Chevrolet Volt, and Bolt EV, all new Honda Clarity and the much anticipated Tesla Model 3!

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Browse local nature and wildlife themed art, photography, and jewelry for sale by Steve AtkinsKathy Wright HardyChristina Ramsey and Chance Feimster.

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Find out how you can do more to conserve and protect our fragile environment when you chat with representatives from Clean Air Carolina, Sundance Power Systems, Joyce Pearsall of Monarch Watch, Alan Cameron – a volunteer with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and Friends of Dupont State Forest – Alan will have a Green Salamander for you to learn all about and much more!  

Explore our fundraiser table of unique items and if you have any items you would like to donate to the sale table please do contact us or just bring them the day of. 

Fun!

Live Music!

Local Beer!

Great Eats provided by the

  Oskar Blues Chubwagon! 


If you are unable to attend or would like to donate anonymously, please visit our donate page at 
www.earthshinenature.com/donate or donate to our GoFundMe campaign or support us on our new Patreon Page.  Yet another option for supporting us is our new Solar Sponsorship program – read more about it at the end of this blog post. 

or

Snail mail your donation to 

Earthshine Nature Programs 

134 E. Dogwood Ln. 

Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

All proceeds from this fundraiser will support the completion of our classroom solar project and are tax deductible. 

Questions? Contact Steve at earthshine.nature@gmail.com

The ENP website: www.earthshinenature.com

The ENP Blog: www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

The ENP Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/snakesteve68 

Facebook: Earthshine Nature Programs and The Blue Ridge EV Club 

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Steve and a Snapping turtle friend he rehabilitated and released in its native habitat. 

*Steve O’Neil founded Earthshine Nature Programs when he was working as outdoor guide and naturalist at Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway in 2010.  In 2013 ENP incorporated as a 501c3 and became a separate business entity from Earthshine Discovery Center yet ENP kept the name Earthshine as a reminder of its humble beginnings at the wonderful Earthshine Discovery Center.  The name Earthshine is foremost in our mission because we believe that stewardship of the EARTH, and all the life contained within this fragile oasis in space, should SHINE brightly above all other issues because without clean air, water, and environmental balance  – we have nothing.

There are several ways you can support our Classroom Solar Energy Project

1. Monthly Patreon support via our Patreon page.

2. Direct donation of components/funding via one of the links above.

3. Sponsorship of a solar module (aka solar panel).

How the solar sponsorship program works.

You may choose to sponsor (donate) one or more solar modules at the donation level of $500 each.* 
*Your sponsorship covers the cost of the solar module, its support structure, and the electronic components needed to tie Phase 2 into the existing & operational classroom solar array. 

Solar Sponsorship spaces are limited to 18.

Of those 18 spaces – five are already taken as of April 8, 2018. 

After your donation is complete – your name/company name (or the name of your choosing) will be permanently affixed to the frame of your sponsored solar module(s) and inscribed on a nearby commemorative plaque listing all classroom solar project supporters. (you may opt out of any of these perks)

Sponsors will also receive a certificate of sponsorship, a donation receipt, and the following private web links that will allow you to check in anytime & see your donation in action supporting our classroom, our students, our education animals, and the future!

– A unique web address and private login/password that will allow you to directly access our classroom solar array’s real-time energy production status.

– A unique web address to a private live web camera providing a birds-eye view of our classroom solar array in action! (and organic garden during the growing season)*

– A web address to our weather camera that provides yet another unique view of our classroom solar array in action and a daily time-lapse video of the weather at our site.*
*No students will be identifiable to protect their privacy. 

And if you choose: A set of one of a kind “solar earrings” or a “solar pendant.” Handmade of remnants of solar cells by Naturalist Steve O’Neil and his students.  These unique items do not generate any power but they are all one of a kind, unique, and beautiful. 

To sponsor one or more solar modules please contact Steve at earthshine.nature@gmail.com

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Our Muddy Fundraiser was a Great Success!

26 Jun

Yes, our spring 2014 fundraiser–the Mad Mountain Mud Run–was a great success.

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It was a success in many ways.

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We ran through mud and it was fun!

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We beat our last year’s time by almost 30 min! WOW!

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One of our three teams even took 2nd place overall!!!! Way to go Turbo Turtles team 2!

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But best of all we raised funds to keep our wildlife rehabilitation, conservation and nature and science education programs and projects  running.  These projects and programs are making a difference not only in the lives of individual animals we have rescued and released back into their native habitats, but also in how people view wildlife, our shared Earth and our connection to all living things!

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We could not have done this without YOU!  Thank you to EVERYONE who sponsored us in our quest to complete the Mad Mountain Mud Run and thank you to the runners who volunteered their time and energy to join us in this monumental muddy challenge!

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As promised I filmed the entire event with my helmet mounted GoPro camera (see in pic above) and with two other cameras stationed along the route to get different angles of our challenge.  With that footage I produced an epic video of the race for all to experience with us–just without the mud, sweat and tears of joy 🙂  The soundtrack for the video is provided by local Masters of Musical Mud Ten Toe Turbo who we owe a huge amount of muddy thanks for providing the awesome tunes for this video and for the mud run!  Keep watching at the end of the video for Ten Toe Turbo performing at the mud run.

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Enjoy!

 

The Nature Nerds and Turbo Turtles will return to the mud in 2015!

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SPECIAL THANKS TO: Hands On A Child’s Gallery for making the mud run possible.  Pardee for taking the amazing photos and the following individuals and organizations that sponsored us in this amazing community fundraiser event!

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ENP is not affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line

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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Didgeridoo–a one of a kind experience!

8 Jul

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While on family vacation over the last week of June I visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse National Monument. While there I had a wild idea: would it be possible to play my didgeridoo inside the tallest lighthouse in North America! I doubted that the National Park Service would say yes but it never hurts to ask. I did and they said go for it! I could not believe my luck so I grabbed my didgeridoo, followed a ranger inside, set up some cameras and started to play. The video below shows just a small part of my experience. In reality the camera can show only a one dimensional picture of what I have to say was one of the most unique didgeridoo experiences I have ever had–it was a four dimensional experience for sure. The reverberations of my drones off of the inner walls of the cylindrical brick structure were unbelievably haunting and powerful and a musical memory of the highest level for me. Also, as far as the park service rangers knew it was the first time the drones of the didgeridoo have ever been heard in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!
Check out the video below for just a taste of my amazing experience. Be sure to turn up the volume!

Special thanks to the National Park Service for making this possible!

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Mad Mountain Mud Run–THE MOVIE!

18 Jun

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It has been over two weeks since the Mad Mountain Mud Run, and finally the editing is complete and the video of the mudtastic event is complete!  Follow the Earthshine Nature Nerds from Steve’s helmet mounted GoPro camera as they run, crawl, slide, slosh and squish their way through over three mikes of mud covered obstacles in the name of wildlife and nature conservation and children’s education.

If you are unable to view the video above then follow this link to the video on Youtube.

Thanks to many of you, the Mad Mountain Mud Run Fundraiser was a success for both Earthshine Nature Programs and Hands On! A Child’s Gallery!

If you sponsored us in the mud run, your supporter t-shirts are in the works as I write this and I will be getting them to you soon.

THANK YOU ALL to all of our SUPPORTERS and FRIENDS who worked to help make this unique mud covered fundraiser a great success!  Many, but not all of you were featured on the back of our mud run jersey that we wore in the race!

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Without all of you, Earthshine Nature Programs would simply not happen.

If you would like to donate to Earthshine Nature Programs please click here.

Earthshine Nature Programs is not affiliated with any and all ads that may appear below this line.

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The MAD MOUNTAIN MUD RUN is TOMORROW!

31 May

WOO HOO!!

The Mad Mountain Mud Run is TOMORROW June 1st!  Please come out in support of Earthshine Nature Programs, Hands On and all the runners in this wonderful and fun filled mudtastic event!

THANK YOU

To all of you that have already sponsored us in the race!

Without you Earthshine Nature Programs would not happen.

It is not to late to sponsor us in the race–we will gladly take donations before and after the race.  

Please follow this link to make an online donation via PayPal–THANK YOU! 

If this is the first time you are seeing this blog post and you are wondering what this is all about,  below is a full explanation of tomorrows muddy events.

Yes, you heard it right–Earthshine Nature Programs Executive Director Steve O’Neil has formed a mud running team with three of his nature loving friends.  They will be running in the Mad Mountain Mud Run 5K in Hendersonville, NC on Saturday June 1st 2013!

The name of our team is

The Earthshine Nature Nerds

The Nature Nerds are;

Steve O’Neil (captain),

Jenny Geer-Hardwick,

Will Thomas

Steve Atkins

(Hog not included and no animals will be harmed during the mud run)

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Our community goal is to run in support of the Hands On A Child’s Gallery based in Hendersonville, NC with our entry fees and afternoon of muddy fun!

Our nerdy nature goal is to run representing Earthshine Nature Programs as our 2013  fundraiser.  To do this we will need to find sponsors that are willing to support Earthshine Nature Programs with a pledge.  Your pledge will provide direct support to our environmental education and conservation programs and projects and it is tax deductible.

Take a look at the course map below for what we have in store for us!  It should be a muddy fun day!

Mud-Run-Course-2013

Sponsor Awards

Those who sponsor us for $50 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website (to be updated after the race) and this blog, and on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race (if you sponsor us before May 22th your name/loge will appear on the t-shirt).

Those who sponsor us for $100 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website and this blog, and your own custom mud run t-shirt–mud not included.

Those who sponsor us for $500 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website and this blog, your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom made (by Steve) award 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 June first

Those who sponsor us for $1000 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website and this blog, your own custom mud run t-shirt, one “Honored Supporter” custom made (by Steve) award 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 June first, and Steve and his animals will come to you and present one of his Misunderstand Wildlife animal shows with live animals 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.

The nitty gritty muddy dirt of the sponsorship (rules)

If the Earthshine Nature Nerds team completes the race–all sponsored pledges will be collected from the sponsors by June 15th, 2013.  Supporter awards will be awarded within 30 days following the race.

If the Earthshine Nature Nerds team 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.  All donations will be used to provide direct support to our environmental conservation projects and programs and it is tax deductible.

If you would like to sponsor our team please contact me and we will make arrangements.

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.

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!

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

NOTE: The Nature Nerds will video/photograph their perspective of the race using the latest technology including HD GoPro cameras and more so that their nerdy muddy experience will be able to be shared by all!  A few days following the race look for the video to be posted here on the ENP Nature Blog!

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THANK YOU!!

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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Contact us using the form below or via this link.

Earthshine Nature Programs to run in the Mad Mountain Mud Run!

11 May

Yes, you heard it right–Earthshine Nature Programs Executive Director Steve O’Neil has formed a mud running team with three of his nature loving friends.  They will be running in the Mad Mountain Mud Run 5K in Hendersonville, NC on Saturday June 1st 2013!

The name of our team is

The Earthshine Nature Nerds

The Nature Nerds are;

Steve O’Neil (captain),

Jenny Geer-Hardwick,

Will Thomas

Steve Atkins

(Hog not included and no animals will be harmed during the mud run)

mudrunpromofinal

Our community goal is to run in support of the Hands On A Child’s Gallery based in Hendersonville, NC with our entry fees and afternoon of muddy fun!

Our nerdy nature goal is to run representing Earthshine Nature Programs as our 2013  fundraiser.  To do this we will need to find sponsors that are willing to support Earthshine Nature Programs with a pledge.  Your pledge will provide direct support to our environmental education and conservation programs and projects and it is tax deductible.

Take a look at the course map below for what we have in store for us!  It should be a muddy fun day!

Mud-Run-Course-2013

Sponsor Awards

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

Those who sponsor us for $100 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website and this blog, and your own custom mud run t-shirt–mud not included.

Those who sponsor us for $500 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website and this blog, your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom made (by Steve) award 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 June first

Those who sponsor us for $1000 or more will receive your logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website and this blog, your own custom mud run t-shirt, one “Honored Supporter” custom made (by Steve) award 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 June first, and Steve and his animals will come to you and present one of his Misunderstand Wildlife animal shows with live animals 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.

The nitty gritty muddy dirt of the sponsorship (rules)

If the Earthshine Nature Nerds team completes the race–all sponsored pledges will be collected from the sponsors by June 15th, 2013.  Supporter awards will be awarded within 30 days following the race.

If the Earthshine Nature Nerds team 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.  All donations will be used to provide direct support to our environmental conservation projects and programs and it is tax deductible.

If you would like to sponsor our team please contact me and we will make arrangements.

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.

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!

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

NOTE: The Nature Nerds will video/photograph their perspective of the race using the latest technology including HD GoPro cameras and more so that their nerdy muddy experience will be able to be shared by all!  A few days following the race look for the video to be posted here on the ENP Nature Blog!

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THANK YOU!!

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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Contact us using the form below or via this link.

Wonderful new video from Earthshine!

8 Feb

Take a look at this wonderful new video of the Earthshine Discovery Center by the folks from Drawbridge Media!

Earthshine Discovery Center-Summary from Kevin Wild on Vimeo.

Visit the Earthshine Discovery Center today!

Earthshine Nature Programs Year End Report and New Beginnings!

19 Dec

2012 was a great year for Earthshine Nature Programs!  We have had many great high notes, a couple of low points–but change is the way of nature.  Scroll down for a recap of last year and a taste of what is to come for the future of ENP!

Tracking Catherine!

Tracking Catherine in the spring!

We started off with a wonderful second annual open house and benefit in the spring!  We had a great turn out,  Potter the Opossum made an appearance and we learned great information about the beautiful and endangered Green Salamander from Alan Cameron–aka “The Salamander Whisperer”–and amazing details on the life of the Eastern Hellbender from NC Wildlife Resources Commission Biologist Lori Williams.

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Biologist Lori Williams with a young Hellbender in July!

We ate copious amounts of wonderful Gelato from Kiwi Gelato in Brevard, drank Buchi Kombucha from Asheville and listened to  great music from the Naughty Pillows as well as a didgeridoo/drum Concert from didgeridoo master John Vorus, Jason Alfrey and yours truly.  Our friend Ben Prater from Wild South spoke to folks about protecting the biodiversity of our beautiful mountains and  Jenny and her mom made tie die with the kids while several volunteers gave great tours of the nature center.

Jenny and her mom running the tie dye area

Jenny and her mom running the tie dye area

Later, naturalist Clint Calhoun and I took a crowd of folks on a turtle tracking hike to find Jimmy Irwin the box turtle and then we took a hike in the forest searching for anything wild an wonderful that we could find.

Clint showing us wonders of botany!

Visiting naturalist Clint Calhoun showing us the wonders of botany during our annual open house!

The silent auction was a huge success and proceeds funded the operation of the nature center, wildlife rehabilitation program and projects for the summer and fall.  Thank you all who visited with us on our second annual fundraiser and supported us with your donations–without you Earthshine Nature Programs would not exist.  THANK YOU ALL!

Beth and a sleepy youngun
Beth and a sleepy youngun

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Cayden Calhoun learning all about botany and box turtles!

Throughout this last year I have presented dozens of wildlife and nature outreach presentations and didgeridoo classes all over western North Carolina.  The photo below was taken at my first program of the year for Brevard Middle School students.

Field day for BMS!

We have spent hundreds of hours in the field visiting with the beautiful nature and wildlife of the woods, fields and streams surrounding Earthshine Lodge.  Many of you joined me on exciting and informative Turtle Tracks tracking expeditions where together we located our radio-tagged Eastern box turtles Jimmy Irwin and Catherine.  We are also continuing to follow the travels of Mrs. Bones the box turtle at our other study site in Cedar Mountain.  Mrs. Bones has continued to follow here annual patterns as she has done over since 2008.  Mr. Bones continues to evade us but I have no doubt that we will find him one day and continue tracking his movements again.  In September I replaced the transmitters on all three turtles so we will now be able to track them for another two years.  Together with your support we have learned a great many things about nature, ecology, biology and beauty of the North Carolina mountains—especially “our” mountain.

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We tracked turtles in the woods…

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We tracked turtles in the fields…

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We tracked turtles on the hills…

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We tracked turtles everywhere!

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We even tracked turtles beside houses!

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And yes, we did find turtles!  Below is the gorgeous Jimmy Irwin–his face is covered in yummy blackberry juice! !

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We also tracked the Timber Rattlesnakes…well, I tracked them actually.

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I am calling 2012 The Summer of the Rattlesnake because I had so many wonderful encounters with rattlesnakes over the last year and learned so much about their ecology and natural movements.  You would think that tracking rattlesnakes would be exciting.  Well, it is not.  It is loads of hard work scrambling through thick brush and brambles, getting scratched, cut, bit by mosquitoes, spiders and biting flies, falling down and getting almost skewered by pointy sticks, boiling in the heat, drenched by heavy rains, wandering in the dark with only a tiny flashlight and even hitching rides from friends…only to usually find your study subject coiled in a resting coil…in other words, asleep.  Yes, that is what Timber rattlesnakes do most of the time…sleep….and wait for prey to come to them.

Now tiger tracking–that would be exciting!

I also helped state biologists install a covert wildlife camera to monitor rattlesnake poaching at a remote den site in the national forest–but that is another story.

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I attempted to win a new didgeridoo by submitting photos to a photo contest on Facebook–below were two of my possible entries.  Can you find the Timber rattlesnake in the first one?

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This next photo was the one I submitted to the contest.  Even though it did not win I owe a HUGE THANK YOU to those of you that voted for me and a special thanks to Steve and Mason Atkins for trekking to the waterfall to get the photo for me.

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The highlight of my “summer of the rattlesnake” came when I was invited to visit a Timber rattlesnake den site where we saw seven large and possibly gravid (pregnant) rattlesnakes–it was an amazing experience and a great honor to be able to share space with such beautiful creatures.  Take a look some video I shot of the encounter below!

One of the biggest reptile discoveries of the summer was that—like Eastern box turtles, Timber rattlesnakes have high site fidelity.  This simply means that they return annually to the same places within their habitat to meet their survival needs.  I documented both Utsanati and Zoe using many of the exact locations that they have used over the past year, for example–in the spring Utsanati returned to within 30 feet of the site where I first discovered him at about the same time as he did in June of 2011.  A few weeks later I found him in the woodpile where he had sheltered for several weeks after his transmitter implantation surgery in the summer of 2011.  Then in the late summer he returned to the same area of the power line access-way where he spent several weeks at the same time last year.  Then, at the end of the season he moved back to the exact same den site that he used last winter.  Zoe, the female rattler also seems to use the same sites time and again.

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Although I have only been tracking them for a little over a year and a half it is my belief that, like the box turtles,  Timber rattlesnakes are creatures of habit and use the same sites on an annual basis.  This knowledge along with the data collected from almost 5 years of tracking the box turtles tells me that moving a wild reptile more than a few hundred yards could be very detrimental to its survival.  I also believe that Timber rattlesnakes seem to prefer edge habitat (the edges of fields, forests and areas that have been disturbed or modified by humans) to the cover of the dense woods.  These edge habitats provide great cover in the form of dense brush and downed timber as well as rock and brush piles–great places to take shelter and hunt for food.  These edges also provide great opportunities for thermoregulation–i.e. sunbathing–which as we all know the reptiles must have due to their ectothermic (cold blooded) nature.  What does this mean for those of you with box turtles and rattlesnakes on your land?

Utsanati on October 04 2012

Utsanati on October 04 2012

Well, you must be doing something right to play host to these remarkable creatures so keep doing whatever it is you are doing and the wildlife will be happy and continue to visit your property.  If you encounter a box turtle in your garden or yard simply thank him for eating all the slugs, snails and beetles that would have otherwise eaten your garden veggies.  He may occasionally eat a strawberry or tomato or two but I think that is a small price to pay for you to not have to use pesticides to poison your property and your food.  The rattlesnake and his kin are a friend of man because they eat countless rodents that would otherwise destroy your crops, invade your homes and spread diseases to your family and pets.  It is up to you to watch where you walk when outside during the warm months of the year.  Use a flashlight when walking outside at night and use caution at dusk and dawn.  If you have small children or pets and believe that you have Timber rattlesnakes and Copperheads on your property–please do not kill them,  just call me if you are in the WNC area and I will come out and survey your site and help you decide how to manage the situation in a more sustainable way.  If you live far away from my stomping grounds feel free to give me a call and we can chat about snakes anytime.

They cannot adapt to our way of life,  so we must adapt to theirs.

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Betty the young box turtle was released back into the wild late in the summer.  She was one of our head start turtles and had lived with Meredith for awhile,  then she lived at the nature center for the last couple of years until she was large enough to fend for herself.  Good luck Betty!  THANK YOU Meredith and Betty (the human)  for rescuing her!

With the good always comes the not so good.  Sadly, in the spring I was called on a wildlife rescue to pick up a strangely acting snake.  It turned out to be a Black ratsnake and it was acting very lethargic.  I immediately rushed the snake to our reptile vet a Dr. Chris Coleman and he treated it but sadly it was too sick to survive.

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I believe that it had been poisoned indirectly via a rat or mouse that it had recently eaten and that the rodent had recently eaten rodent bait–which in turn poisoned the snake.  Yet another great reason to live an organic lifestyle and not put out poisons and baits to kill wildlife–let the snakes, hawks and other predators live and they will control the rodents for you.

Then, last June, we said goodbye to our sweet friend Potter the Opossum.  He was attacked by an unknown predator that broke into his enclosure dealing him great damage that he was unable to recover from.  Below are a couple of the last photographs of Potter O. Possum.  The first one is from when he made his second appearance on local television just before the open house.

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This photo was taken by friend of ENP Steve Atkins on the day of the Open House.  That is Steve’s son Mason feeding Potter a treat.

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A few months after Potter passed away we acquired a hand raised young Opossum named Crash from our friends at the WNC Nature Center.  Like Potter, Crash is very sweet and has a gentle personality and wants to eat everything all the time.  Here is a photo of Crash and I the day I brought him home.

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Crash is much larger now and he has become a wonderful education Opossum.  He will live with us at ENP in a large, custom built, heavy duty enclosure that our friend Jim Hardy is building as I write this–THANK YOU Jim! .  If you would like to meet him just contact us and we can set up an appointment with Crash.  Below is a great photo of my friend Saya–Mo and Jenny’s daughter–Crash and I in September.

Saya and I with Crash

Saya and I with Crash

Over the summer I also worked part time at Camp Illahee as a naturalist and environmental educator.  I worked to teach the girls about the value of nature, reptiles, opossum’s and the didgeridoo–it was a wonderful summer at a wonderful camp!

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With the help of the campers at Camp Illahee we rehabilitated seven baby Opossums during the summer and then released them at Earthshine.  It was a great learning experience for the girls and life for the young Opossums.  If you are looking for a great resident summer camp to send your daughter to please consider Camp Illahee in Brevard, NC.

During the summer I was awarded the Turtle of Change award from “Salamander Whisperer “Alan Cameron–that is Alan passing the turtle to me in the below photo.  I feel greatly honored to have been a recipient of this beautiful award promoting good and lasting change in the world–we need it now more than ever.  alansteve

Over the next few weeks I carried the Turtle of Change with me on my travels and in my field work.  The turtle was with some friends and I as when we played didgeridoo for the turtle on the street in Asheville, NC and then journeyed to a very powerful performance by folk/didgeridoo musician and wildlife conservationist Xavier Rudd.

Busking in Asheville for the Turtle of Change with John Vorus and Chance Feimster

Busking in Asheville for the Turtle of Change with John Vorus and Chance Feimster

Check out this video of our Turtle of Change/didgeridoo experience in Asheville and Pisgah Forest!

Below is a photo of the Turtle of Change with Veterinarian Dr. Lee bolt and Dr. Ron Davis just before we implanted a radio transmitter into a Timber Rattlesnake in the name of wildlife conservation and education.

The Turtle of Change with Dr. Bolt and Dr. Davis and a Timber rattlesnake.  The snake was about to have a tiny radio transmitter implanted to facilitate tracking it in the wild.

The Turtle of Change with Dr. Bolt and Dr. Davis and a Timber rattlesnake. The snake was about to have a tiny radio transmitter implanted to facilitate tracking it in the wild.

John Vorus and I playing didgeridoo for the Turtle of Change on a remote rock outcrop in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Didgeridoo and the Turtle of Change on top of a remote rock outcrop.

Didgeridoo and the Turtle of Change on top of a remote rock outcrop.

Presenting the Turtle of Change to John Rucker and his Turtledogs

Presenting the Turtle of Change to John Rucker and his Turtledogs

I then passed the turtle off to John Rucker and his Turtledogs so that it could continue it’s travels across the earth.  I wrote three different blog postings about the turtle of change and it’s journey with me.  You can read those postings by following these links: part 1, part 2 and part 3.  

Speaking of change we know that the only thing constant in nature is change and that without change things stagnate.

That being said…things are going to change for Earthshine Nature Programs.  We are in the process of moving most of our operation to the campus of The Academy at Tails Carolina near Dupont State Forest in Little River, NC.  As you can imagine, this is a HUGE change for us however, we believe that change is good.  This move will be a good thing for many reasons.  At the Academy we will have three times the space as in the Rabbit Hole at Earthshine–space in which to expand in the future!  We have already moved almost all of our animals and habitats to the new site and built a predator proof, walk-in Opossum habitat for our resident Opossum “Crash.” We will use his previous,  smaller habitat as a rehab pen for the orphaned and injured opossums we will undoubtedly take in during the spring and summer.  We have also built five, 8 foot long heavy duty tables for all of our habitats and aquariums and we will soon be building a custom walk-in tortoise and Iguana “jungle room” habitat so that we can house large tortoises and iguanas that have outgrown their suburban homes.  ENP friend and supporter Steve Atkins was instrumental in setting up a donation to ENP that included a 225 gallon aquarium with all hardware that will be used as a habitat for “Crikey” the Cayman!  Coming in the early spring of 2013 will be an outdoor box turtle rehabilitation enclosure similar to the one at Earthshine–only it will be larger and have a quarantine area for new arrivals as well as an area for non-releasable “wildlife ambassador” education turtles.  There will be two ponds with solar powered water circulation/filtration systems and several wild blueberry bushes for the turtles to munch on.  We also have plans to set up a box turtle tracking program similar to Turtle Tracks project and possibly a snake tracking program as well.  We plan to stock the new nature center with new education and science exhibits, a larger resource library as well as technology such as a flat screen TV and USB microscope and now we even have a full size refrigerator (donated by Earthshine!), and a dedicated storage, food prep and triage room for injured wildlife–how is all that for moving up in the world!

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You may be asking yourself what will happen to the Nature Center at Earthshine?  It will continue but it will be small at first with only a few animals and habitats.  Over the next few months I plan to construct/purchase and install several new habitats when funds allow and then stock them with ex-pets and other non-releasable rescue animals that need forever homes.  The outdoor box turtle enclosure will remain at Earthshine with Tripod, Rowdy, Crash and the other resident turtles so you will still get to visit with your favorite turtles when you visit Earthshine.   I will also be switching out animals from time to time to give the ones at each location a rest form the daily grind.

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As far as for me–sadly, I will be leaving Earthshine as a full time employee.  My time with you at  Earthshine I will always cherish as one of the most important and productive times in my life and you have all touched my life as I hope I have touched yours.  The winds of change are taking me in a new direction and now I will be working with the Academy at Trails Carolina  / Trails Carolina as a science, nature and ecology teacher/field educator.  I will continue to work for Earthshine as a part-time employee and if you want to see me at the lodge during your visit please contact the lodge and make arrangements in advance so that I can make it a point to be there for you if at all possible.  I will continue to assist Karen and the crew in the maintenance of the nature center and turtle habitat and I will also be continuing to track Catherine and Jimmy Irwin the Eastern box turtles and Usanati and Zoe the Timber rattlesnakes for as long as possible.

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If you are interested in going on a turtle tracking expedition please contact the lodge well in advance and ask for me by name to lead your “turtle tracking/critter hunt” and we will make it work if at all possible.  I will also continue to run Earthshine Nature Programs as a non profit separate from Earthshine.  I will continue to present my wildlife, nature and didgeridoo outreach programs and edit the ENP website, Facebook page and  this blog in order to bring the wonders of nature to you so you can count on many more interesting nature stories in the future.

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The last group of Turtle Trackers of 2012 with one of the largest trees on the property!!

Speaking of stories, the most recent stories I have for you are actually videos! The first one is “Crikey” the Cayman eating his lunch!

How cool was that!

The next two videos are on Vimeo so you will have to follow this link to view the first one.  It is a professional clip done by friend of Earthshine Kevin Wild of Drawbridge Media–it is very well done!  Here is another great video about Earthshine by Drawbridge–Thanks Kevin!

The biggest change is not that I am leaving–it is MUCH bigger than that.  If you did not already know the news–Benny has left Earthshine as manager and Karen and her sister are taking over management.  They will be running the show from now on.

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Things will change–but only for the better!  We have changed our name to Earthshine Discovery Center and we even have a new logo (below) so look toward the the future of Earthshine with the same great atmosphere, new activities and much, much more!

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Earthshine!

With all these HUGE changes at Earthshine and Earthshine Nature now is the time for you to consider making a donation to help us fund the new Earthshine Nature Programs.  We are currently holding a fundraiser on a crowd funding site similar to Kickstarter called RocketHub.  Please check out our latest fundraiser project for the details and donate if you are able.  If you are unable to donate, please feel free to share our information with friends and contacts who may want to support our cause.  Monetary donations are gladly accepted but if you you have supplies/materials that you think we may be able to use or unwanted pet reptiles/amphibians that are looking for a new home please contact us anytime so we can discuss it.  Receipts available upon request.  Earthshine Nature Programs is 100% volunteer operated so 100% of your donation will be used for the care and feeding of our rescue and resident animals and in support of our wildlife conservation projects and outreach programs at both nature centers and on the road.

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THANK YOU ALL for making Earthshine Nature Programs a reality!

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

Merry Christmas!

Steve O’Neil

Naturalist

Earthshine Nature Programs

ENP is a member of the
Nature Blog Network

I leave those of you that have read this far a quote from my favorite musician Xavier Rudd:

“Our world keeps spinning round and round it goes, human nature keeps spreading its disease, and our children keep growing up with what they know through what we teach and what they see.
And so its only a question of the time we have, and the lives that our children need.  As they can only keep growing up with what they know through what we teach and what they see.”–from Better People by Xavier Rudd

New nature photos from ENP!

27 Oct

Check out several new photos from adventures with Earthshine Nature Programs from over the last few weeks–enjoy!

Turtle of Change visit’s Asheville, NC street buskers and Xavier Rudd in concert!

24 Oct

On October 20th the Blue Turtle award known as “Turtle Grupo Tortuguero” made a special trip to Asheville, North Carolina. While there it witnessed some street buskers playing their didgeridoo (yidaki) for good and positive change. The turtle then was present at a concert by “multi-instrumentalist, world class surfer, animal rights activist and nature conservationist” Xavier Rudd. The next day the turtle journeyed to the top of a remote granitic dome in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC for a look at the fall scenery and a special didgeridoo performance by Earthshine Nature Programs Naturalist Steve O’Neil. View the video of highlights from the adventure below.

My challenge for you reading this: PLEASE do something good today for your family, friends, community, animals and Nature. Pass the positive energy along and keep it moving. Let’s create a wave of good and positive, lasting change that will make your communities and the world a better place for all creatures.

Musicians in order of appearance: Steve O’Neil, Chance Feimster, John Vorus and Xavier Rudd.

For more about Earthshine Nature Programs and Steve O’Neil visit: www.earthshinenature.com and www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

For John Vorus visit: www.johnvorus.com

For Xavier Rudd visit: www.xavierrudd.com

Learn more about the Blue Turtle/Turtle of Change Award at www.blueturtle.com

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