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Earthshine Nature Programs Update

4 Jul

It has been a very busy 2019 at Earthshine Nature Programs!  In the pages of this posting, I offer an update to catch you up on the happenings over the first half of 2019 at ENP!

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Adventure News

Early in the year, I journeyed to that outstanding nexus of all geekdom the wonderful nerd incubator that is Kennedy Space Center in Florida!

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I was on a pilgrimage of adventure, awe, wonder and it was an information gathering mission for the science classes I teach to the brilliant youth of today (and I was on a mission to check this off my bucket list since I was a 4-year-old kid watching the last of the Apollo moon landings on a black and white cathode ray tube console TV way back in the early 1970’s!)

While at KSC I was in my element and felt the need to share a small part of my experience with my students and with you so I made an educational “teaser” video for anyone interested in learning about NASA’s out of this world space exploration history – check it out below- then get yourself to Kennedy Space Center!

 

While on this spaced-out star trek I also completed another amazing life milestone even bigger than my nerdy space quest – I connected with my biological father!  Yes, you read that right – through the marvels methods and tools of science I was able to have my DNA sequenced, then a few weeks later I was touring Kennedy Space Center with one of the people who brought me into existence – my biological father!

WOW!

What an amazing journey it has been – to the historic past of US space exploration and into my own history! Here’s a photo of my absolutely awesome father and I visiting in Florida.  Isn’t science, life, the universe, and everything – just amazing!

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Public Service News

Early in the year, I produced a new video documenting Asheville NC’s adoption of Proterra all-electric city busses! Check it out below!

Then, while visiting an NC beach in May, I became very frustrated (again) with the way we human animals are mistreating the planet so, like I always do, I picked up others people’s carelessly cast-off litter and produced a short Public Service Announcement about littering – view it below.

PLEASE DO NOT LITTER!

and

please work to keep our home planet clean by picking up the litter/pollution carelessly cast aside by others onto our shared earth, air, and waters.

Remember to always Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose, Rethink, Refuse, Resist

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Outreach News

The amazing ENP volunteers and I have presented several reptile and wildlife outreach programs to many local schools and organizations and events.

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Reptiles, wildife, nature, local ale, One Wheels, electric vehicles and renewable energy – yes, it is a thing because we at ENP make it a thing and you should too 🙂

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Abby and crew at the Upper French Broad Riverfest on June 22nd!

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Wildlife News

It is summer and the reptiles are on the move.

A few weeks ago I was on my way to the office when I encountered this cute little Rat snake crossing the road.

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I tried to lend him a hand and he was not very cooperative but eventually, with some gentle coaxing, I was able to encourage him to move along into the forest where he would be out of danger from humans and our machines.

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Then a few days later Abby and I were on the way to the classroom to work on the solar array and we discovered a young Timber rattlesnake making her way across the road – so we gave her a bit of a “hand” in getting to the other side.

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I carefully used my tongs to gently lift her and move her off the road to the safety of the forest – she quickly moved off rattling all the way – such an amazing encounter!!

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Upon arriving at the office Abby spotted a young Rat snake moving across the chicken yard in the direction of the chicken coop car where a mother hen had just hatched out three new chicks!

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I decided to move this cute little chicken thief to the other side of the building in the hopes that he would move off and not come back for a chicken dinner!

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While working on the classroom solar array we discovered this cute little Jumping spider out for a stroll – isn’t she just soooo cute!!

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Here’s a close-up:-)

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Wildlife Rehabilitation News

We have successfully rehabilitated one once very sick Rat snake (black snake) who lived with us since the fall of 2018 and have released him back into his home habitat.

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What a grand success story – check out his release video below!

 

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Charlie, one of our Red-footed tortoises, has laid eggs!!

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We are incubating them now and hope to hatch them by late summer –

more on this later as things develop 🙂

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We have fostered 9 orphaned young Opossums, who lost their mother in an incident with a motor vehicle – and released them into the forest near our classroom. (In the pic you only see five but the others are underneath…)

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Opossums help us so much yet they are so mistrusted and misunderstood.  Watch this amazing video on the Opossum and learn how awesome they truly are!

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In April, May, and June several of our hens hatched 10 new chicks!!

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Everyone loves spending time with the chicks!

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Clean Air Carolina Air Keeper Project News

With all of our other projects taking up most of our time we have not had much time as we would like to devote to getting more air monitors installed in the WNC area.  However, we were able to successfully install one monitoring station in Murphy, NC thereby filling in the big gap in coverage in the far western part of NC.

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Are you air aware?  How is the air quality in your area?  Take a look at the map and find out.  In the coming weeks, I hope to install two more air monitors in the WNC area and close in the remaining gaps in the far western part of the state as well as in the area north of Asheville.  If you are interested in hosting an Air monitor in NC (or anywhere) feel free to contact me for more details on how you can become an Air Keeper or if you are in NC please check out Clean Air Carolina and find out how you can become an NC Air Keeper and be part of the solution.

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ENP Crew News

We have an awesome new ENP intern! Let’s welcome Abby M. to the crew!

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Abby loves animals and nature, is very capable in everything she sets her mind to, is focused and passionate about science and environmental conservation, she has studied abroad in the rainforests of Peru, and is great with animals, people, and power tools which is always a big plus.

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The ENP/Trails Science organic garden is doing great!!

This year the students and I planted the entire garden in straw bales and if the amazing growth is any indication we will have a wonderful harvest!

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Solar Project News

We have been working very hard on bringing the western portion of Phase Two of our classroom solar array online and as of 5/24/19 we made it so!

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On May 24th we threw the switch on an additional 7.2 kW of solar that, with your support, we have added to the existing 4.8 kW Phase One array (the blue one).

That is solar hero Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute and I throwing the switch on the new western array!

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This new increase in solar capacity means our science and nature center classroom and the ENP all-electric outreach vehicle are now fully powered/fueled* by the sun!!

*When the ENP EV is charged on-site.  My recent energy audit study on the ENP EV revealed that, as of the date of the study, the ENP outreach EV was 48% solar charged – however, that number has undoubtedly increased with our addition of more solar generation capability as well as the continued “greening” of the energy mix in the area in which I live.  I will complete another energy audit after the completion of the eastern segment of Phase Two and report the results here and on my EV blog.

Next, I offer a series of mostly chronologically arranged photos of the construction of the western segment of the Phase Two classroom solar array starting about 3 months ago.

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ENP long-time intern Pierce and his girlfriend Erin gave us a hand one day on the solar array support structure and much more – THANK YOU PIERCE AND ERIN!

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Solar Hero Jim Hardy installing a support beam.

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The support structure taking shape, as well as our straw bale garden experiment!

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Jim and Abby cutting steel support beams for the Eastern array.

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The students all worked very hard to help make this amazing project happen for their classroom!

THANK YOU ALL FOR WORKING SO HARD ON YOUR SOLAR ARRAY!!!!

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The completed Zilla Rac solar support framework ready to receive solar modules!

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The students and I moving the new SolarWorld solar modules into place!

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Bolting it all together!

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Putting the final solar modules in place!

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Bob wiring the modules into the system.

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Connecting the SMA SunnyBoy inverter*!

*A wonderful benefit of using SMA Inverters is if/when grid power goes out the Secure Power Circuits from the solar inverters will – when the sun is shining – provide us with up to 6 kW of emergency power to run key habitat, lighting, education support systems, and the entire campus internet system – very cool indeed!

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Bob Harris and Jim Hardy – heroes for renewable energy, the environment, education, our students, and our little log cabin classroom!

THANK YOU JIM AND BOB 

WE COULD NEVER HAVE DONE ANY OF THIS WITHOUT YOU!!!

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After we powered up the western array, Bob worked his magic and networked the new inverter with the original unit so we could visualize the energy output from anywhere in the world – check it out HERE!

As you can see from the first partial day of operation both solar arrays together were putting out over 9.8 kW!

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On the first full day of operation, we put out over 1.6 times as much power as the original Phase One array alone – circled in red!

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We produced a total of 58.16 kWh of electricity for the first full day of operation – that is  33.16 kWh above our average daily usage of around 25 kWh per day.  On the second full day of operation, we produced a total of 56.49 kWh and at midday hit a peak of 10,044 watts of clean solar produced electricity!!  Our best production to date on the Western Segment of Phase Two has been on a cloudless cool spring day when we generated a bit over 63 kWh of clean solar electricity – that is well over twice our average daily use!  Then, about two weeks later, on a very overcast, rainy, and gray day, the array produced 25.50 kWh of solar-generated electricity!! So what this means is that our array produced enough electricity to cover all of our needs even on a cloudy day – without even seeing the sun itself !!!WOW!!! If this trend keeps up we will not be paying for and using fossil fuel generated power for much longer – especially after the eastern segment of the Phase Two array comes online very soon.

For those of you interested in how much money we are saving by going solar – the answer, for now, is – all of it.  Our power bill for May 2019 was only $3 above the standard grid connection fee charged by Duke Energy!  Before going solar, our monthly energy cost to operate our classroom/ENP office averaged over $200.  Add in the all-electric outreach vehicle and that would be another $15.  But now, with our amazing student-built classroom solar array we have almost dropped our facilities and transportation energy use costs to zero!  Once the eastern segment of Phase Two goes online – it will be well below zero and far into the positive.

The Eastern Segment 

 After we completed the Western segment of the Phase Two array we started work on the Eastern Segment.  Below I offer photos of that project.

I took the following photo a few weeks ago of Jim, Abby, and her boyfriend Mitch from high on the roof while we were working on the eastern array.

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Bob and Jim working with me to put one of the eastern array’s frame pieces in place.

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Moving more solar modules

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Bob, Abby, and I showing off one of the solar modules that will soon be producing fuel for the ENP/Trails classroom and the ENP all-electric outreach vehicle – a 2012 Nissan LEAF.  I find it simply amazing that several very thin pieces of modified and purified silicon (sand) and a few other unique compounds fused together and sealed under another flat piece of glass (more sand) with a few wires connecting everything together and then pointed at the sun – produces clean fuel for our outreach vehicle and electricity to run the entire classroom/office building for zero operational costs, without any moving parts – and from my own “backyard!”

Why aren’t more people doing this?!?!?

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The Eastern array starting to take shape while my little pup Tange looks on.

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Abby and I moving a solar module up onto the frame.

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Careful…

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Success!!!

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Building a solar array means tapping into your inner monkey!

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Peace – through teamwork, cooperation, perseverance, some monkeying around – and lots of SCIENCE and ENGINEERING!

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The very last primary solar module goes into place!

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WOO HOO!!! It is DONE!!

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Tightening a hold down bracket

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Bob tightening another hold down

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Bob running more electrical conduit

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SUCCESS!!

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As of June 06, 2019 the primary construction on the Earthshine Nature Programs/Trails Science student-built classroom solar array is officially complete!!

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Throughout the entire project, the students have left their mark on the project and left their signatures on the support structure 🙂

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Over the next 10 days, we worked on wiring up the Eastern Array, installing the safety fencing, and completing the classroom building’s new power grid wiring project that we started in the fall of 2018.

The photo below shows two of the new electrical boxes in the process of being installed.

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Bob Harris installing the new main breaker box.

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Now, compare those top of the line, incredibly safe electrical box units to what we had before pictured below and you can see why this electrical evolution upgrade project was so important for the safety of our students, our classroom, and our education animals.

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Before this electrical system upgrade, many of the building’s power outlets had failed and a few of the circuit breakers would get uncomfortably warm to the touch thereby requiring us to resort to using many extension cords to keep systems in operation.  After we powered on the majority of the new system I removed most of the extension cords and took this photo as a reference of what once was – yikes!

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This new power grid is not only higher quality, a magnitude safer, and more energy efficient than what we previously used, it has also allowed us to interconnect the easternmost segment of the Phase Two solar array into the new power grid.

As the sun was setting on June 15, 2019, Bob Harris made the final connections and threw the switch on the Eastern segment of the array bringing the entire Classroom Solar Array online and ready to produce power.

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As I write these words on June 16th, 2019 the first rays of the morning sun has just started hitting all 60 modules of the array and by midday, we will see what this amazing student, volunteer, and community constructed and donation supported solar powered renewable energy generation facility is capable of!

Below is a photo of “first light” hitting the newly completed ENP/Trails Science Classroom Solar Array on June 16th – Father’s Day!  I took this photo using the ENP/Trails Science BloomSky weather camera – follow the link and view our completed classroom solar array in real-time anytime you like 🙂

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At the end of the day the newly completed Classroom Solar Array had produced over 67 kWh of clean, “locally grown” renewable energy – and it was even partly cloudy/hazy mid-day as evidenced by the solar production curve from the newly networked SunnyBoy inverters.

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Even with the clouds and haze our array produced more than enough electricity to power all our classroom/office systems, fill our Duke Energy net metering “credit bucket” to overflowing, and it also become a small scale local energy generating station providing cleanly generated electricity not only for our classroom and outreach vehicle’s needs – but also for the campus energy grid thereby “greening” the other buildings on the campus of Trails Momentum!

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Now that the Eastern segment (on the right) of the Phase Two Array is complete, online, and producing electricity alongside the Western segment (on the left) of the Phase Two Array and the original Phase One Array (the middle one) – it will bring the total system capacity up to 19.2 kW of solar produced electricity!!  Due to environmental factors and system losses, our maximum output on perfect days could reach upwards of 18 kW and possibly hit production targets of over 80 kWh – only time will tell!

UPDATE: On the first day of Summer 2019 the array produced an astonishing total of 83.34 kWh of electricity!!! That is over 3 times our energy needs – truly amazing!!!

Take a look at the beautifully perfect power curve from that day…

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A few more amazing stats…

Now the same curve showing the inverter output.bestsolardaytodate7

The below graph shows our to-date monthly production numbers for 2019 – outstanding!

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Now let’s compare the solar output for

June of 2017…

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…and June of 2018…

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And now, June of 2019

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WOW

Now take a look at our annual solar electricity production since day one of almost exactly three years ago.  Our 2019 levels will soon surpass all of 2018 and 2017 combined – and as I write it is only now the fourth of July – now that is some amazing homegrown energy independence and freedom!  In fact, to mark this special day, from now forward  I will forever refer to July 4th as the ENP/Trails Science classrooms

Energy Independence Day! 

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And now our energy production numbers to date.

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The key numbers to notice here are the following:

Total energy produced since going online in late June of 2017:

11.184-megawatt hours!!!

That is enough solar-generated electricity to offset the energy needs of

1.55 average American homes for one year!! 

This may not seem like much but until a month ago we were using almost all of the energy produced by the 4.8 kW Phase One array – and we still managed to generate a  small surplus.   Now that we have all of Phase 2 complete and online we will generate much, much more!

How did I come up with those numbers you may ask:

According to the UCS the average American home uses 7,200kWh/year.

1 (MWh) / 7.2 (MWh) = 0.13889 Homes per MWh

0.13889 (Homes per MWh) x 11.184 (MWh) = 1.553 homes

Data Sources:

http://blackbearsolarinstitute.org/

https://www.seia.org/initiatives/whats-megawatt

https://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/how-is-electricity-measured.html

Now that we have completed Phase 2 and the entire array is now complete, online, and producing loads of electricity, it will be very interesting to see how long it takes us to blow the top off of those numbers.

Science and evidence tell us that burning things (fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, etc.) for energy/fuel releases toxic air pollution and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into our shared atmosphere.  These compounds, directly and indirectly, harm our health, our planetary life support system, and all our futures. By going solar we at ENP and Trails Science are no longer using toxic fossil fuels to power our classroom and outreach vehicle.  We have avoided releasing 8.6 tonnes of CO2 into our shared atmosphere as well as all of the associated pollution – and that is a very good thing!

The average American is responsible for releasing 19.8 tonnes of CO2 annually.  By installing our classroom solar array we have reduced our classroom’s carbon footprint from 19.8 to 11.2 tonnes.  Adding in the 6 tonnes of CO2 removed by driving an all-electric solar-charged EV outreach vehicle and we reduce our CO2 output down to 5.2 tonnes!  We are well on our way to net zero!

That is most impressive!

Calculate your own carbon footprint using the following websites and work to reduce your impact on our shared earth.

https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

https://www.conservation.org/act/carboncalculator/calculate-your-carbon-footprint.aspx#/

https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/consider-your-impact/carbon-calculator/

https://www.c2es.org/content/calculate-your-carbon-footprint/

https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/

Our amazing new solar capacity will produce loads of surplus power, far above and beyond what we use.  This surplus power will, at first, go toward filling the overflowing net-metering “credit bucket” for our classroom that we will then pull from at night and during periods of low light/rainy/wintery weather.  This large output of power and overflowing electron filled credit bucket will effectively remove our Duke Energy power bill for the classroom building and most of the electric fuel bill for the ENP all-electric Nissan LEAF outreach vehicle – WOO HOO!!

Eventually, when we bring online the third and final Phase of our classroom solar energy project – the “plug and play” battery storage bank* – we will then channel a portion of any excess power produced during the day into those batteries for later use at night and during periods of dark weather.  At that time, our connection to the Duke Energy power grid will remain as a backup – just in case – and it will act as an emergency “generator” in the event of a major power outage coinciding with a long period of dark/rainy/wintery weather (if we ever see wintery weather again…)

However, if over time, we discover that we are able to make enough power for all of our needs and if the system operates without issue in all weather through all seasons – we hope to eventually unplug from the grid entirely thereby making our science classroom and ENP office 100% off-grid, self-sufficient, energy secure, and net zero.

Now that is what I call true freedom!!

Freedom from all the problems of burning toxic fossil fuels – freedom from the insanely high human and environmental health costs, the endless war, and dirty politics connected to and feeding upon the acquisition, transport, and use of fossil fuels.

*We are now raising funds to support the Phase Three battery bank and associated battery inverter system.  If you are interested in supporting the third and final phase of this awesome classroom renewable energy project, please follow the links at the end of this blog post for more information on how you can support us. 

THANK YOU!

All donations to ENP are tax deductible.

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THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS SUPPORTED US IN MAKING THIS HAPPEN!!!!!

YOU ARE ALL HEROES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER!!!!!

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Above all of the obvious awesomeness of producing clean, “locally grown,” energy-secure, renewable energy from the sun to power our classroom building and outreach vehicle – our primary reason for all the time, effort, classroom, and community teamwork, fundraising, and focus on this multi-year-long project is the continuing STEM  education of our students, visitors, and outreach program participants and you reading this blog post.  To put it simply – our students, visitors, and outreach program participants and you are the future of science-supported nature, wildlife, and environmental conservation of their futures and of our planetary life support system.  By introducing all of you to the most up to date, scientifically accurate, and unbiased, nature, wildlife, environmental, energy, climate, and renewable energy-focused peer-reviewed science, as well as to these functional projects that they work together to create in class that directly benefit their classroom and learning environment and education – we are hopefully planting great seeds of curiosity in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), nature, ecology, clean energy, and clean transportation systems as well as forward-thinking progress that works to benefit all of us, our shared environment,  and of everything moving forward.

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BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD

AND THE WORLD WILL CHANGE

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Speaking of change, today* was monumental for us in more ways than one.

*much of this post was written on 5/24/19.

While we were powering on the Western segment of our new solar array in support of using clean, “locally grown” renewable energy (instead of – toxic and expensive – in more ways than your bank account – fossil fuels) to power our classroom, outreach vehicle, and our future – over a 1.5 million school-age students, many of their teachers, supporting parents and other adults, and scientists from all disciplines from all around the planet, in thousands of cities and hundreds of countries – were walking out of their classrooms, offices and laboratories to protest their government’s inaction on fighting the most challenging environmental and social issue of our time:

Anthropogenic climate change.

I stand in support and solidarity with the students, scientists and others who are attacking this most urgent issue head-on with peer-reviewed evidence, science supported solutions, and peaceful action such as but not limited to;  the adoption of energy-secure “homegrown” renewable energy sources, zero-emission electric transportation, and the election of policymakers who understand and support the findings of science and will choose to deny the status quo and work very hard to make the needed changes in the system that will be most beneficial for everything and everyone moving forward.

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In support of these goals I attended the March 15th, 2019 Fridays For Future event and plan to attend the September 20th Global Climate Strike event as well. I encourage all of you reading this to join me from wherever you are and to attend, organize, band together with your classmates, teachers, professors, and co-workers, and peacefully walk out of your school, laboratory, office, home, church, place of business or other institution to show your support for ending our toxic addiction to fossil fuels and adopting clean, energy-secure, “locally grown,” renewable energy systems and electric vehicles to power, transport, and and empower a better, more prosperous future for us all.

Learn more about this planetwide movement for positive change at: https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/

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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, nature, indigenous music, renewable energy and science outreach programming at camps, schools, birthday parties and special events in local area and in the WNC region, to his unique experiential citizen science-based projects and experiences in his Trails Science 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.  

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

These animals are housed in the rustic log cabin Science and Nature Education Center classroom that is also the office of Steve’s nonprofit 

Earthshine Nature Programs 

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High above the ENP/Trails Science Classroom cabin (Note: This photo was taken in 2017 – before Phase Two of the classroom solar array had been started).

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 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.

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 into its native habitat. 

A history lesson: Steve O’Neil founded Earthshine Nature Programs (ENP) when he was working as an outdoor guide and naturalist at Earthshine Lodge in Lake Toxaway in 2010.  In 2013 ENP incorporated as a 501c3 and became a separate business entity from Earthshine Lodge yet ENP kept the name Earthshine as a reminder of its humble beginnings at the wonderful Earthshine Lodge.  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 of life 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 us. 

1. Monthly Patreon support via our Patreon page.

2. Direct donation of materials/funding via one of the following links.

If you 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 below. 

or

Snail mail your donation to 

Earthshine Nature Programs 

134 E. Dogwood Ln. 

Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

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. 

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/or 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/staff 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 interns.  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

4. Support us by shopping on Amazon with Amazon Smile by following this link: smile.amazon.com and under the Supporting Link choose Earthshine Nature Programs and Amazon will donate funds to ENP each time you make a purchase – at no cost to you!

 

THANK YOU!!

Without your continued support, Earthshine Nature Programs and the Trails Science program would not function.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to ENP now and in the future.  Earthshine Nature Programs is a 501c3, donation funded, volunteer owned and operated, wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, environmental stewardship, and science education charity organization.

__________________________________________________

ENP has a wonderful partnership with Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum to provide nature and science education and inspiration to their populations of outstanding youth.  Learn more at:

Trailscarolina.com

and

Trailsmomentum.com 

_____________________________________________________

A note from naturalist

Steve O’Neil

I am passionate about sharing my love, respect, and curiosity for nature, wildlife and wild places, environmental stewardship, science, and reason with everyone I meet, especially my classroom and outreach programming students.  It is the students of today who will make the big nature and wildlife conservation, science, and energy decisions of the future, and it is my goal to give my students the best possible unbiased exposure to the most up to date, peer-reviewed evidence, ethics, practices, and technologies so they will be better informed and ready to take on the world and be the change that will guide us all forward. I feel that by demonstrating working models of what is possible, respectfully coexisting with each other, and by working together toward the common goal of creating and maintaining a better world for all living things today and into the future, we will make all of our dreams come true.

Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3) is supported primarily through monetary, resource, and time donations from caring, concerned individuals just like you.  I work hard to fundraise and acquire grants and donations from any and all sources that would like to support us. With your help with hands-on volunteering, a one-time donation of equipment or funds, a year-end gift, or a continuing patronage – together we will create something wonderful that will serve to educate and inspire thousands of students with a new curiosity, greater respect, passionate understanding, and conservation ethic for caring for wildlife, and nature, and the adoption of responsible, secure, clean energy and transportation resources that we can all work to bring to our homes, businesses, and on the roads, thereby lowering our impacts on our shared environment and in the process become better stewards of nature and empower our shared futures through the findings, methods, and tools of science. 

THANK YOU ALL

Sincerely,

Steve O’Neil

Executive Director of Earthshine Nature Programs(501c3)

1811-1SteveONielAnimals5306-FPO

 Steve and Ashley – By Evan Kafka

Learn more about us:  www.earthshinenature.com

Follow our Nature Blog:  www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

Find us on Facebook at:

“Earthshine Nature Programs”

Watch our nature video series on YouTube at: www.youtube.com/user/snakesteve68

Follow our Electric Vehicle Blog:  bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com

Earthshine Nature Programs

134 E. Dogwood Ln.

Pisgah Forest, NC  28768

(828) 606-8939

earthshine.nature@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

12744548_10207723252332049_7293508382097406487_n

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. 

20170802_090847

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: 

ob

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!

peteandhawk

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

peewee

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 

steveandsnapper1.305162240_large

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

ENP Air Keepers Project

4 Mar
ENP is now working with Clean Air Carolina on the Air Keepers Project!

Follow me in my newest video as I work to install Purple Air particulate pollution air monitors in several locations in Western North Carolina.

Let’s work together to clean the air!

Learn more about Clean Air Carolina: https://www.cleanaircarolina.org

Become an Air Keeper today:  https://cleanaircarolina.org/airkeepers

If you live outside NC you may install your own PurpleAir air monitor by visiting:  https://www.purpleair.com

THANK YOU to all of my supporters and Patrons who have helped make this and all ENP projects possible!

Visit us on our website:  www.earthshinenature.com  

Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/earthshinenature

Gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/enpsolartrails

One Year Ago Today

20 Jan

One year ago today an amazing milestone was reached – after almost two years of work, my Trails students, friends, volunteers, supporters, and I completed the primary construction on Phase One of the Earthshine Nature Programs/Trails Science classroom solar array!

20170802_090847
THANK YOU to my Trails Carolina and Academy students, to Trails Carolina and Academy, to Bob Harris and Black Bear Solar Institute, Jim Hardy, David Thompson, Ron Griffin , Rachel Bisker, Jewell Mimms, Meredith and Mary Beth, Fred Bahnson, Alan Cameron, Marian O’Neil, Mom, ENP Volunteers, members of the Blue Ridge EV Club, and to everyone else who supported us with the time, energy, component, and monetary support that all came together to make this amazing renewable energy and Electric Vehicle project possible – we could not have done it without all of you!

Watch our classroom solar array’s construction time lapse video 

Watch our Solar Array’s activation video.

Watch highlights from our garden from the summer of 2017 (why, because there is some great imagery of our new solar array in the video!).

Read our blog post about the day.

Please consider supporting Phase Two of our solar project on  Patreon.

THANK YOU ALL!!!

DCIM104GOPRO

Rat Snake Tracks Field Report for Summer 2016 & 2017

25 Sep

Video footage in this edition of Rat Snake Tracks was filmed in August 2016 and September 2017.

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 the Black rat snake and you may be in this movie, in front of or behind the camera, learning and living 🙂

This project is supported by in part by Trails Carolina, The Academy at Trails Carolina, Trails Momentum , 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.

NOTE: The parents of the student(s) appearing in this video granted permission for us to record their special moments sharing time with our educators and the Apollo the rat snake.

Finding Odyssa

11 Sep

Recently, “Trina” – one of the students in one of my classes known as Alpha – was doing a wood run and found an ancient Eastern box turtle!

 

This was the first adult box turtle found at our Sky Valley study site since 2014!  The students and I collected the vial scientific data on this old female box turtle and in doing so found that she has a unique injury that she has overcome with great dignity – her plastron (bottom shell) has broken free from her carapace (top shell)!  How this happened in the deep forests far from humans  we have no idea but whatever caused it, it must have been very traumatic but Odyssa*, as we named the ancient old reptile, pulled through the hardship and continued on her life’s odyssey. Box turtles are just amazing creatures.

After collecting the needed science data for our Turtle Trails and the statewide Box Turtle connection project, we released Odyssa at her discovery location.  “Trina” and the Alpha girls were all very excited to be a part of such a wonderful find and we documented the event in a video I produced here:

 

Things to know:

  1. Box turtles are protected by law in many areas.  This means no collecting, harming or touching other than helping them across the street.
  2. Box turtles do not make good pets.  They have very strict food/habitat requirements, may live for a century,  and see #1.
  3. Box turtles are very beneficial animals to have in your yard/garden.  They love to eat the pests that would otherwise eat your garden fruits and veggies such as slugs, snails, caterpillars and so on.  Count yourself lucky if you have a box turtle in your yard/garden.  Yes, they will occasionally eat a strawberry or tomato but even they need a balanced diet.
  4. Box turtles are “home-bodies” and live in very small habitats their entire lives.  Research shows that moving them away from their habitats can be detrimental to their health and to their lives.
  5. If you find a box turtle crossing a road – it is not lost.  It is only crossing the road.  All you need to do is gently pick it up – they do not bite – and move it to the side of the road that it was moving toward.  Place it a few yards off of the road and it will go on its way.
  6. If you find an injured box turtle and it has a cracked and bleeding shell or damaged appendage please place it in a container and take it to the nearest veterinarian.  They will have a list of local rehabilitators who will care for the turtle at no charge to you. Most importantly – be sure to write down the EXACT location where you found the turtle and give this information to the veterinarian/rehabilitator.  This is so they will be able to take the turtle back to its habitat for release when it is better (see #2) .
  7. Respect the wonderful box turtle.

Read my recent story on why I save snakes and turtles and Opossums.

*Why Odyssa ?

 

Earthshine Nature Programs To Hold Fundraiser In Support Of Our Classroom Solar Energy Project

2 Apr

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 all of us.

Steve is also a full time naturalist and environmental science educator at Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina 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 (a 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. 

12744548_10207723252332049_7293508382097406487_n

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 hero Jim Hardy, finished construction of a 5.3kW off-grid solar power station that will soon power Steve’s log cabin classroom and ENP nonprofit office. 

solararray

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. 

This student built solar array is now structurally complete; however, it is yet to go online and produce power for the classroom due to lack of support to fund the remaining components – the solar storage batteries.  It is for this reason that Steve will be holding a fundraiser on April 24th at: 

ob

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 30% of taproom sales to Earthshine Nature Programs!  Proceeds from this fundraiser will support the final phase 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 blog posting on my previous blog post linked below:

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

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 Tortoises, Ashley the Red Tailed Boa Constrictor, Fiona the Ball Python and Piggy the Western Hognose snake.

Special Guests! 

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

peteandhawk

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

peewee

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 Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Chevrolet Volt and the all new Chevrolet Bolt!

11731666_10206302066643295_6887548450814718652_o

Learn about how you can go solar with Warren’s Solar Superheroes!

wss

Browse local nature and wildlife themed art, photography and jewelry for sale by Steve AtkinsKathy Wright Hardy,  and Christina Ramsey.

11953434_10206635574740789_5449295985393361448_o

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

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 

steveandsnapper1.305162240_large

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 for without clean air, water and environmental balance  – we have nothing.

enplogolarge

 

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

31 Jan

January 20, 2017.

Today a great milestone was achieved.

It was a celebration 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!

array-last-module

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

Watch the video of the array’s construction below!

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!

coopev

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 back in 1981 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, a fishing line in the water, and a frog in my pocket. 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 animals, 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

 

These facts, revealed to me by my sixth grade teacher, and supported by my heroes in real life and on TV, collided one day in an epiphany moment that I will never forget.

I was standing at the window in my 6th grade classroom, holding a small solar cell that was attached to a small electric motor with an attached fan.  When I moved the solar cell into the sun that was streaming in from the window – the fan started to blow air in my face!  I then and there in that moment that I connected everything and began to realize the great potential of solar electricity and the countless positive benefits it could provide to our species.   This moment was so very powerful and it so greatly influenced the many factors that have shaped and directed the entire course of my life.

Recently, I came full circle and drove my 100% electric-and-soon-to-be-solar-fueled Nissan EV back to my old elementary school and visited the very same spot where it all came together for me and snapped these photos.

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In my right hand a solar cell and in my left a matchbox version of my EV!

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My EV at my elementary school!

With all of this knowledge and front loading on future possibilities mixing together within my young mind it was soon 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 now and into the future.

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 addictive grip 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 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 driver’s 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 childish machismo at the expense of another creatures life – now you see how I feel about trophy hunting.

In the third installment in the Sad Snake series I encounter a cold blooded murder scene and I get a bit heated at the insanity and ignorance of the Human species.

 

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 HerpetologistLiving Alongside Wildlife, the Scaly Adventures crew and myself are all 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, knowledge, and the findings of science.

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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, guns, 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 choose 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. “

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