Tag Archives: eastern hellbender ozark snot otter amphibian

Earthshine Nature Programs Fall Benefit Events

25 Sep


Date: October 01, 2016

Time: 1-4pm

  Location: SANCTUARY BREWING COMPANY Hendersonville, NC


Date: October 03, 2016

Time: 5-8pm


Brevard, NC


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

Earthshine Nature Programs! 

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Come learn how you can go electric and kick gas! 


All donations to our 501c3 are tax deductible.

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

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



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

Please support our

Solar Energy Project

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our remaining needs to make this classroom solar project a reality

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


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

2. The power inverteryet to be acquired.

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


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

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

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


3. AIMS Power Remote Switch with LCD Monitoring Screen

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


Cost $139.00

Donate via our Amazon wish list.


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

Primary Supporters of Our Solar Project

Black Bear Solar Institute

Bob Harris – Executive Director


Bob Harris:bob.harris@blackbearsolarinstitute.org

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

FLS Energy


Frank Marshall: frank@flsenergy.com

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

Jim Hardy

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

Email: jh3@citcom.net

 Trails Carolina

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

 The Academy at Trails Carolina

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

Jewell Mimms donated $1000 – THANK YOU!!


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

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


Level 1. Up to $100  Charged Particle

Level 1. $100 – $200  Shiny Soldier*

Level 2. $200 – $500   Captain Photon*

Level 3. $500 – $1000   Ray of Hope*

Level 4. $1000 – $5000  Enlightened Provider*

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

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

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

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


-Tie/Lapel pin


-Mixed media artwork

-A combination of the above listed perks

-Or you may submit your own custom suggestion

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




A note from ENP Executive Director Steve O’Neil 

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

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

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

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

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


Steve O’Neil

Executive Director of Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3)


Naturalist with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina


(828) 606-8939

134 E. Dogwood Lane

Pisgah Forest, NC 28768


Please Support Earthshine Nature’s Mud Run Fundraiser–Tomorrow!

30 May

That’s right folks! Tomorrow, Earthshine Nature Programs Executive Director Steve O’Neil and Team Earthshine Nature Nerds will be running again this year in the Mad Mountain Mud Run 5K in Hendersonville, NC on Saturday May 31st, 2014!

The Nature Nerds are (left to right);

Steve O’Neil (captain),

Will Thomas,

Jason Alfrey,

Steve Atkins

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


For 2014 the Nature Nerds will be sharing the muddy trail with The Trails Turbo Turtles!  The Turbo Turtles consist of several students and staff of The Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Carolina!  Captain Steve will be overall captain of both the Nature Nerds and the Turbo Turtles.

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

Our nerdy nature goal is to run representing Earthshine Nature Programs as our 2014 primary fundraiser.  To do this we need sponsors that are willing to support Earthshine Nature Programs with a pledge.  Your pledge will provide direct and 100% support to our environmental science education and wildlife rehabilitation and conservation programs and projects.

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

As I write this we are working with the coordinators of the Mud Run to plan and construct one of the obstacles that will be used in the race!  More on this later!

Take a look at the course map from last year for a taste of what we may have in store for us this year!  The Nature Nerds and Turbo Turtles constructed a special obstacle for the Mud Run this year–it is #18 on the map–the Turbo Turtle Towers!  It should be a muddy fun challenge!


Sponsor Awards

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

Those who sponsor us for $100 or more or more will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race and two custom designed ENP Medici Lighted writing Pens from Myron.com.

Those who sponsor us for $500 or more will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race, four custom designed ENP Medici Lighted writing Pens from Myron.com, your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom made (by Steve) award which includes a certificate of appreciation and small glass vial filled with a small amount of the actual mud from the race course that we will run through on May 31st!

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

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

A great muddy moment from the 2013 Mud Run!


The nitty gritty muddy dirt of the sponsorship (rules)

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

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

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

You may earmark your donations to the following projects:

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

Project B: Snake Tracks Timber Rattlesnake radio telemetry project: currently radio tracking two wild Timber rattlesnakes near Earthshine Discovery Center.

Project C: Ratsnake Tracks is a radio telemetry project that will begin tracking one ratsnake at The Academy at Trails Carolina in April of 2014.  This will be part of a hands-on wildlife science class led by Steve for the Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Wilderness students.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

After last years Mud Run we were all smiles–it was great fun!


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

Take a look at last years race video below!




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

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


Earthshine Nature Programs is not responsible for or affiliated with ads that may

appear below this line.


Only TWO days left for our online fundraiser–please post, share and support us!

13 Mar

Hello Friends,
Only two days remain for the Earthshine Nature Programs’ first 2013 online fundraiser so please donate, share and post the below paragraph with anyone you like or anywhere you like to help us reach our goal–THANK YOU!

“Earthshine Nature Programs is in the process of setting up a second nature education center and expanded our outreach programming to educate even more folks about nature, science, wildlife, conservation and rehabilitation and we need your help to make it happen.  Please take a moment and check out our project fundraiser page on the Rocket Hub website. Rockethub is a crowd-funding site similar to Kickstarter,  so any contribution you can make to our cause–no matter how small or large–will help us to continue our oh so needed nature and wildlife conservation projects and outreach programs into the future.  Please share this link  (also below in full) anywhere and with anyone you like who you think may want to support our great cause.

Project link:  http://www.rockethub.com/projects/12818-earthshine-nature-programs”

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us–without you we would not survive!

Tracking Catherine!
If you would rather donate via snail mail please contact me and I will provide you with my mailing address.

Receipts available upon request.

Thank you for any and all support,

Steve O’Neil, Naturalist, Wildlife Warrior and Executive Director of ENP

(828) 606-8939


Saya and I with Crash

Saya and I with Crash

Gollum the Hellbender gets a feed!

26 Jan

Take a look at this latest video of “Gollum” the Eastern Hellbender feeding on minnows and goldfish!

New Earthshine Nature Programs fundraiser on RocketHub

25 Dec

Hello friends,  please take a look at my new fundraiser page for Earthshine Nature Programs.  We are attempting to raise funds for the future expansion of Earthshine Nature Programs via an online resource called RocketHub.com.  Please visit the link to my RocketHub fundraiser page  and support us if you are able.  If not, please pass the link on to all of your contacts and friends and together maybe we can fund the development of an amazing future for the new Earthshine Nature Programs!


Thank you for you support!

Visit our RocketHub page now or follow the link below to the site:


If you are on Facebook or other social networking sites please feel free to copy and past the above link anywhere you like if you think it will generate donations for our cause.


New nature photos from ENP!

27 Oct

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

Eastern Hellbender Survey with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission

12 Sep

In Late July I assisted NCWRC Field Biologist Lori Williams, “Salamander Whisperer” Alan Cameron and a crew of volunteers, students and interns in a survey of Hellbenders in a remote stream in Western North Carolina.

Lori Williams with a juvenile hellbender

The survey was greatly successful in that we found several Hellbenders of several different ages classes in a very short section of the stream.  All animals were carefully captured, measured, weighed and released as close as possible to where they were found.

Lori Williams, Alan Cameron and crew work up a hellbender.

Data from this survey day and others will help the NCWRC biologists better understand and protect the greatly misunderstood Eastern Hellbender.

A juvenile Eastern Hellbender

Watch the video below for the highlights of my adventure with the “Hellbender Hunters!”

If you ever catch a Hellbender while fishing please do not harm it. Although they can bite, they are non venomous and harmless to humans. Gently remove the hook and release the animal back into the stream. Please do not try to capture a Hellbender and keep it as a “pet.” They are threatened or endangered in all parts of their range and therefore they are protected by law from collection or harm.

Hellbender by Lori Williams

If you would like to know more about the Hellbender visit the Hellbender Homepage or schedule a visit with me at Earthshine Nature Center where you can meet “Gollum” our Eastern Hellbender.

Hellbender in moss

Photos by Lori Williams and Jason Butler.  Use by permission only.


New Photos from Earthshine Nature Programs

23 Aug

A bunch of great photos from the Summer of 2012 with Earthshine Nature Programs and Earthshine Mountain Lodge.  Thank you all for staying with us, please come back next year and tell all your friends about Earthshine and Earthshine Nature.


Winter at the Earthshine Nature Center

12 Feb

Take a look at a few of the most recent photos of a few of the inhabitants of the Earthshine Nature Center waiting out the winter.

The first one is of Indi the Blue Tongue Skink basking under her new full spectrum sun lamp that was donated by Nature Center volunteer Amy Lord–THANK YOU Amy!  I cannot think of a better way to spend the winter than flat out like a lizard basking.

Now check out Hayward the Gray ratsnake resting in one of the Ratsnake Skyway tubes–isn’t he a beautiful snake!

Take a look at Fiona–our newest snake–a beautiful Royal Python (aka Ball Python).  She was donated to us by Savannah from the WNC Nature Center in Asheville, NC.  THANK YOU Savannah!

And here is Gandalf the Canebrake rattlesnake resting under his log.  (sorry about the dirty glass.)

Check out Penny the Copperhead in her cave.

Finally there is Gollum the Eastern Hellbender who is squeezed into his favorite notch in the rocks.  It looks like his is uncomfortable but Hellbenders love to jam themselves in tight crevices–it makes them feel secure.

If you would like to visit all of the animals in the Earthshine Nature Center please drop me an email and we can schedule a time for a visit.   –Steve

Amazing Skin and New Arrivals!

17 Dec

Skin stories aplenty!

As I watched  Gollum first rubbed his nose against a rock a few times and then seemed to convulse–and pop off came his skin!  It floated like a wraith out of his hide cave and  into the current where I was able to quickly snap this photo–complete with reflection from the flash (oops)–and then only seconds later it was sucked into a circulation pump and shredded into thousands of tiny pieces!  Amazing!

Now take a look at one of the newest animals in the Earthshine Nature Center–an Albino Bullfrog with his crazy yellow skin!!

This is “One” of two…”Two” is not pictured but looks like “One’s” twin.  They are albino American Bullfrogs and they are quite striking in their yellow skins.  Albinism is the lack of pigments in the skin that in amphibians and reptiles creates a yellowish appearance with red-pink eyes.  In mammals it creates white coats with red-pink eyes.  Very cool!! Albino animals usually do not live very long in the wild because their natural camouflage is not in effect and they stand out to predators and are eaten quickly.  One and Two were bread in captivity and will live at the Earthshine Nature Center so they will not have to worry about predators.  Come see them today!

Now check this out!  A Giant Hissing Cockroach shedding its skin!!

Like snakes, insects such as this roach must shed their entire skins as they grow.  This roach’s old skin is splitting down the dorsal side and the soft white roach, with his new larger skin is wiggling out.  After he is out his new skin will solidify over the next few hours-days and turn brown after-which he will go on about his roachy life.

So cool!!




%d bloggers like this: