Classroom solar project

$1,280 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 19 months
Steve O'Neil
for Earthshine Nature Programs

Who are we?

Earthshine Nature Programs was founded in 2010 by naturalist Steve O'Neil under the front porch of Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway, NC.

We were incorporated as a tax-exempt 501c3 charity in 2014 and are now a separate business entity from Earthshine Discovery Center but maintain close ties with our namesake.  

The mission of Earthshine Nature Programs (ENP) 
is to provide a unique learning environment and education opportunities that will foster a lasting interest, respect, love and hopefully greater conservation of wildlife, wild places, and the fragile environment that supports us all. 

We provide exciting experiential outreach programming to everyone by taking our wildlife & nature conservation & renewable energy messages on the road to local, regional, communities via schools, libraries, camps, churches, special events, festivals, private homes and other public and private organizations and online via
our website , Youtube channel , blog and Facebook page. 

We have created and maintain a one of a kind, partially solar powered/heated, nature, environmental and science education classroom that is open to our students throughout the week and to the public by appointment.

We provide a wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation-based program for the continued care, conservation and study of our native wildlife specifically the more misunderstood animals such as reptiles, amphibians and Opossums.

We function as a collaborative entity seeking to work with other like-minded organizations with the goals of wildlife and nature conservation, education and exploration, nature and science awareness, and the promotion and expansion of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, micro-hydro, electric vehicles and their support infrastructure.

Trails Partnership
In 2012 we partnered with Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum to form the Trails Science Program. 

With the Trails Science program, our goal is to renew our student's connections with their childhood curiosity in science, nature, wildlife, the environment, and how the world works.  We work to impart positive examples, interests, and constructive reasons to get excited and inspired again about science and the natural world we all share.

Our unique, hands-on, environmental and applied science classes, programs and projects have real purpose and real goals that serve to give our students the chance to step outside the box and take the steps to make lasting, positive changes in their lives in order to create a "new normal" in themselves and in their relationships with friends, family members, and with the natural world around them.

In class, our students experience, learn, build, think, and are inspired by directly contributing to lasting wildlife, ecology, nature conservation and renewable energy projects that work to make their lives and their world, a better place.


The Science & Nature Center 
Our science and nature center classroom is located on the beautiful, wooded, campus of The Academy at Trails Carolina adjacent to 10,300 acre DuPont Forest, NC.

In this rustic, log cabin science lab we host a variety of tame animals that were former pets that we have adopted as education animals.  A few of our animals are rehabilitated wild animals that cannot be released for a variety of reasons.

Both Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina students work with naturalist Steve O'Neil aka "Science" Steve as they call him, to learn all about and care for these animals during scheduled class times.  This hands-on, one on one care of our resident animals leads to a deeper inquisitiveness which fosters a greater level of understanding and respect for wild creatures with many students often forming bonds with the animals that frequently lead to amazing changes and personal growth within the students.

15083725_1478185681.6063_funddescriptionWe believe that it is the open-minded students and lifelong learners of today that will make the big wildlife, nature, and energy conservation decisions of the future so it is our goal to give them the best possible exposure to the realities of these disciplines and practices by experiencing, discovering, demonstrating, building and producing, what is possible for today and for tomorrow in and out of the classroom.

Why are we asking for your support? 

Earthshine Nature Programs is a very small 501c3 not for profit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, science literacy, and renewable energy education. We are donation funded and volunteer operated, therefore, we are supported primarily through monetary, resource, and time donations from caring individuals just like you.

Your donation will directly support our students in their science and environmental education programming, nature appreciation and understanding, and personal growth for themselves and their connections with family, wildlife, and the environment.  

Your donation will directly support our students and education/rehab animals by providing clean, site-produced, solar generated electricity for the building and for the education animal habitat life-support systems and components for many years into the future. 

We are holding this Gofundme campaign to raise support (funds and/or equipment) for our current solar project outlined below as well as a few primary habitat/education components of which we are in immediate need.  These projects and programs are listed below in the order of most need.  Please consider donating to one or all of our projects.  You may choose to earmark your donation(s) to the projects of your choice.  You may donate via this Gofundme campaign or you may donate individual items of your choice using our Amazon wish list or through the PayPal link on our website's donate page.

All donations are tax deductible - receipts provided upon request.


                       Our most ambitious project so far! 

Earthshine Nature Programs and Trails Science is working to develop an environmental education classroom and wildlife rehabilitation facility powered by clean, renewable energy!  Our goal with this wonderful, forward-thinking project is to drastically reduce our carbon footprint and eventually remove our dependence on fossil fuels by taking advantage of the most renewable energy source in our little corner of the galaxy – THE SUN!

This photovoltaic solar array will not only supply our classroom with renewably generated solar power but it will be a bold teaching tool for the students and visitors of Trails Carolina, Trails Momentum, participants of our outreach programming, and our online visitors. It will offer our students and visitors a myriad of learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM ) education, project-based learning initiatives, environmental education, and energy conservation experiences. It will also provide a unique web interface technology that will allow the system to be monitored in real-time by our students in class on our campus and anyone from anywhere on the planet via our website and blogs!
View our current production via this link.  (Project supporters will be given login/password information upon request)

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 the ENP nonprofit outreach education vehicle, an all-electric Nissan Leaf!

UPDATE: As of September 2017 the ENP/Trails Science and Nature Center has been the grateful recipient of a new Clipper Creek Level 2 electric vehicle charger (EVSE).  This unit was donated by Dave Thompson of Pineshore Energy and installed by Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute and great friend and project supporter Jim Hardy. 
Read more about our new Clipper Creek charger on the Clipper Creek blog ! 
That is "Science" Steve in the below photo about to plug the ENP outreach Leaf into the new EVSE for the first time!  
This new EVSE charging station allows us to charge our all-electric outreach vehicle in about 2 hours using clean, solar-produced electricity.  It is yet another bold teaching tool informing our students and visitors of the "new normal" - renewable energy powering electric vehicles, our businesses, homes, towns, cities and society.  

Why Solar?  
It is clear that our dependence on fossil fuels is getting us into hot water with climate change, local and international resource, land rights, human rights, political and international issues.  The consensus among almost all the world's scientists and forward thinkers agree that it is time to begin the phase-out of fossil fuel powered energy and transportation sources and ramp up the adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies to power and to move our society.  On top of all these reasons, it is just the smart and responsible thing to do.  

By installing this one of a kind solar power station at our classroom, 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.  

15083725_1478186364.5282_funddescriptionStudents cleaning the 600 watt solar array that we built in class several years ago as a pilot project for our current solar array! 

In our unique solar powered science classroom our students will bust through the negative myths often associated with renewable energy and electric vehicles by studying first hand, and assisting with the maintenance of, fully functioning solar and EV technologies in class.  After leaving Trails our graduates will be more up to date, connected, and ready to accept the reality of, and make use of, sustainable, clean energy power and transportation systems to power their lives and their futures.

15083725_1478186399.2253_funddescriptionOur students think Electric Vehicles are just so cool!

To make this grand vision a reality - in 2015 ENP  partnered with Black Bear Solar Institute (BBSI) in Towensend, Tennessee with the goal of installing 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!  In October of 2016, in working toward this reality, the students and I broke ground and began installing this new solar array! Follow the updates below in working toward the day our solar array will go online.

I will continue to post updates and photos on this page throughout this campaign. 

BACKGROUND: In the fall of 2015 we received a wonderful donation of 20 - 240 watt solar modules (panels) from Frank Marshall of FLS Energy (now Cypress Creek Renewables ) in Asheville, NC!  

Following this amazing donation, Bob Harris of BBSI donated most of the primary components including the SMA Inverter, solar array support racking, wiring and conduit to our project!  WOW!!

                             THANK YOU BOB AND BBSI!
Following these amazing donations both Bob Harris, and friend Jim Hardy offered to donate their time and expertise to the project in the form of technical and construction assistance - and construction began. 


UPDATE #1 DATE: 9/15/16
The solar array's support structure was delivered today!

UPDATE #2 DATE: 10/30/16
Over the weekend Jim Hardy and I installed the header boards that will hold the bracketing system that will be the top support of the solar array.

UPDATE #3  DATE: 11/1/16
Today in class the students and I moved some soil from the area where the solar array support pilings will be anchored and Jim Hardy and I constructed and attached the bracketing system that will connect the array's support framework to the building.

UPDATE #4 DATE: 11/5/16
Today I worked with Jim Hardy and ENP intern Blaine to install the first trusses for the solar array support framework! Below is a photo of Jim and I and the new framework after installation - it is finally taking shape :-)  Note our classroom's pilot 600-watt solar project in the background - still cranking out power after two years of operation!  This small array will be coupled with the large array to produce even more power :-) 

Update #5 Date: 12/17/16 
Today we moved one step closer to pouring the concrete for the footings when ENP intern Blaine worked to install and level the forms. 

UPDATE #6 Date: 1/20/17
The classroom solar array is COMPLETE! After several months of work by my students, interns, Jim and Bob we have completed our classroom solar array!  It is truly a beautiful thing to know that soon we will be producing our own renewable energy, giving our education animals and classroom/office a more stable power system, reducing our carbon footprint, and above all educating our youth on good energy choices to power their futures! Now we only need to fund the components that will allow it to connect the array to the building's power grid and then we will start producing clean, renewable energy from the sun! 


UPDATE #7 Date 3/26/17 
I have completed a video documenting the construction of the solar array.  View it through this YouTube link and read all about it on this Wordpress blog post I authored on the ENP blog. 

UPDATE #8 Date 4/3/17
Almost everything is in place to turn on the power to our new solar array however, we lack the storage batteries that will store power for use by the habitat and building's systems at night or during bad weather.  Funding the batteries are the primary reason we have created this GoFundMe campaign.  Please help us raise the funds to buy the batteries to make this solar power station operational.  Details of these batteries are in the following outline. 

UPDATE #9 Date 7/10/17
Much has happened over the last few months.  For many reasons we decided to temporarily shift our focus from an off-grid system with batteries to a power-grid-tied system that does not rely on batteries yet will still provide solar power to the classroom, animal habitats, and electric outreach vehicle.   We have decided to go this route due to lack of funds at this time but we will continue to work toward the new end goal of a hybrid system with a grid-tied solar array and battery storage bank.  These decisions have allowed us to bring our solar array online much faster and therefore lower our reliance on dirty coal power by offsetting our carbon footprint sooner rather than later. In fact, over the July 4th week Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute installed the final components on the grid-tied system and powered up the array for the first time!!  YES!  Our student-built solar array is now producing clean energy!  While the array is functional it is not yet tied to the building's grid.  This final connection will take a few more weeks due to all the paperwork and inspections required by Duke Energy.  In the meantime, we can make use of up to 2000 watts of this clean solar sourced energy via a "Secure Power" circuit that is a component of the SMA inverter.  We are now putting this power to good use each day by powering the classroom presentation computer and audio-visual system during class :-) Twice we have also used the "Secure Power" circuit to provide electricity to key systems when the building has experienced power outages for several hours due to fallen trees during storms.  
Great progress is being made and soon we will be grid-tied and fully online and producing clean solar energy for the students, the animals and for the future! 
The following photo was taken a few days ago from our student planted organic garden - enjoy :-) 

UPDATE #10 Date 7/16/17 Over the last week we have had the good fortune of being the recipient of a remarkable donation of a high power Clipper Creek Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Station by David Thompson of Pineshore Energy - THANK YOU David!!

Jim Hardy stopped by to help us install the EVSE - thanks Jim!

This new piece of state of the art Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) will charge the ENP outreach vehicle - a 2012 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle - using renewably generated electricity from our student built classroom solar array! On top of all that awesome Pineshore Energy is working on a
smart EVSE power monitoring system and will be partnering with us to use our classroom for one of it's beta testing sites! More on this later.

Myself, Jim Hardy, Dave Thompson and Bob Harris installing and testing the Clipper Creek EVSE charger on the ENP outreach vehicle.

UPDATE #11 Date 7/20/17
Today our solar array was finally tied to the building's grid and we are now online and producing clean energy from the sun!  Watch the video update below for all the shiny details! 

UPDATE #12 Date 11/14/17 
Great news! As of November 8th 2017 Phase One of the Earthshine Nature Programs/Trails Science classroom solar project is permanently energized and online. It is now producing power 24/7 365 days a year! Around three months ago we first energized the system and began producing power on weekdays as a test of the system - however, we were unable to leave the system online when we were away from the building. This was required until the county inspections department checked us off their list. This took a few weeks and when they finally inspected our system they found a few small issues we needed to remedy. All of these setbacks reduced our ability to produce as much power as possible. Finally, a few weeks later, after the issues were addressed, we were re-inspected and passed in all areas. We then sent word to our power company who then took another two weeks to send out a technician to set our bi-directional solar power meter and on November 8th - almost 3 years after we started this amazing student renewable energy project - we were finally able to bring the system online permanently!

We are now able to watch as our silent solar array pours clean, renewable, solar electricity into the building's grid powering our education animal habitats, classroom audio/visual and monitoring systems, and our newly donated and functional Clipper Creek EVSE that charges our all-electric Nissan Leaf outreach vehicle with clean, zero-emission solar produced electricity!

Learn much more about our new solar-powered EVSE on our recent blog posting on the Clipper Creek Blog! 
THANK YOU to everyone that has worked with us to make this amazing hands-on renewable energy project a reality - you are all HEROES!

UPDATE #13 Date 12/03/17
We have gratefully received your amazing and generous donations and have used them to complete  Phase One of our classroom solar array project.  It is now online full time providing our classroom, students, animal ambassadors and outreach vehicle with clean, site generated, solar electricity! 

Now it is time to move toward the future completion of Phases II (and later Phase III) in order to complete our system as first envisioned.  
Currently, we lack only a few key components that will allow this system to function as intended. These components are listed below. 

Your support will allow us to add more solar generation capability and battery storage capacity and the associated control and monitoring components to our classroom solar project. This will serve to bring our classroom and our
nonprofit closer to becoming a net zero facility!

Phase Two will add more solar generation capacity.  
We want to add 3000 watts of solar generation capacity to our existing solar power system. To do this we will need to add 10 more solar modules (panels) and the support racking (frame). We will then be able to plug the new string of modules into our existing inverter. Since all of the conduit and solar inverter are already in place and online this will essentially be a plug-and-play way to take us closer to becoming a net zero classroom facility!

Components needed to make Phase Two of this project a reality:

1. Solar Modules (panels) - size/number/source TBD (contact us for details)*

2. Solar Racking - to support the above solar modules (Contact us for details)*

UPDATE #14 Date 6/10/18 
Due to your amazing donations over the last few months, we have amassed enough funds to begin the planning stage for Phase Two of our classroom solar array.  Recently  our solar electrician Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar
Institute stopped by to take some measurements in preparation for adding 10 new solar modules and their support structure!  Take a look at a few
photos from the day!

Bob Harris using his solar pathfinder device to locate the best position for the Phase Two solar modules. 

The new modules will be placed just below the peak of the roof so as to be out of the shadow of the chimney.

Bob surveys the west end of the roof for best placement of the two modules that are the core of our off-grid solar power system (not technically a part of Phase Two but will be installed at the same time).   This 480-watt array will be used to power our classroom presentation computer and 56" monitor in class on a daily basis.   This array will also serve to power key systems during power outages - until phase three is complete and online.   Note in the background our first student-built solar project - a 120-watt off-grid power system that currently powers the turtle pond water filter, electric fencing around our chicken coop and Opossum habitat, as well as a staff use USB charging station in the classroom.   

UPDATE #15  Date 6/19/18 - MORE PROGRESS!

Today we placed the order for 10 new Solarworld Sunmodule SW 300 - 300 Watt Solar Modules !

These 10 new solar modules (panels) will be the core of Phase Two of our classroom solar array project. 

We decided to purchase our new solar modules from Alt-E at the expert suggestion of our solar electrician, great friend, and project supporter Bob
Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute .

Why did we choose Solarworld you may ask? For one, they have a great track record for great energy production and longevity and on top of that they are really tough - check out the video below for a demonstration of how tough they really are. 

These 10 new solar modules will arrive in a few days and be stored until our new metal roof is installed in the next few weeks.

Once the new roof is installed we will then select the best option for mounting hardware then place the hardware order.

Once we have all the needed hardware - the installation of Phase Two will begin.

I will be sure to keep you updated on our progress with images, videos, and posts.

THANK YOU ALL for helping us make this important energy and education project possible.

After Phase Two is complete we will move forward with fundraising for Phase Three.

What is Phase Three you may ask?    

Phase Three is the final phase of our classroom solar power project.
Phase Three will provide our classroom with a battery storage bank - essentially a building-sized UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). This battery bank will be charged by our solar array during the day thereby storing energy to provide power to our classroom's education equipment, animal habitats, and life support systems during the night, over average periods of overcast/rainy weather, and during the frequent weather and grid-related power outages we experience in our rather remote, wilderness location.

Over longer periods of overcast weather the battery bank will rely on grid electricity to charge. Essentially, the existing energy grid will then become a backup battery charger to our solar power/battery bank system supplying our building's micro-grid with power only on the rare occasions when absolutely needed.

Components needed to complete Phase Three -
The final phase of our classroom solar energy project.
Phase Three is designed to plug-and-play with Phases One and Two.

1. SMA Sunny Island Inverter or a similar unit.
(This link is only an example - please contact us for details)*

This control unit will allow our hybrid power system to communicate with the solar array, storage batteries and power grid allowing us to function as an off-grid solar power station most of the time but keep our grid connection for times of extended rainy low light weather. 

If you would like to donate funds to cover the cost of these components please do so via this campaign or through the PayPal link on our Donate Page. 

2. Battery storage - size/source TBD 
Trojan L16 AGM Batteries or a Lithium-Ion battery pack similar to the Tesla Powerwall.  (or comparable* as decided by Bob Harris of BBSI )
Use: Stores electricity for nighttime/cloudy day/power outage use (outages are frequent in our remote location).
Source: Bob Harris will arrange with a supplier to save on cost and shipping.
If you would like to support us with a donation of these batteries please contact us.  If you would like to donate funds to cover the cost of these batteries please do so via this campaign or through the PayPal link on our Donate Page. 
*We could also use other storage mediums including used EV batteries.  If you are interested in assisting us with this most important part of our project please contact us. 

Once phases One and Two solar arrays are online and operational (noted as PV generator in below diagram), Phase Three will then be integrated into the system as in the below diagram (only one Inverter and Sunny Island unit will be needed). 

The above-listed components are the only remaining components needed to make Phase Three of our solar power system operational.

The acquisition of these primary components will be directed and supervised by our primary solar electrician Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute.


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

1. Support us with a one-time donation to this GoFundMe campaign. 

2. Support us monthly via our new  Patreon page.

3. Make a direct donation of components/funding via one of the links in the next section.

4. Sponsorship of a solar module (aka solar panel) - or other components.
Another unique way you can support this project is with a solar module sponsorship.

Sponsorship Guidelines: You may choose to sponsor (donate) one or more solar modules at the donation level of $300/ solar module.

After your donation is complete your name/company name (or the name of your choosing) will be affixed to the frame of your sponsored module(s)
and inscribed on a nearby plaque listing all project supporters. (Similar to donating a brick to a construction project.)

All supporters above the $300 level will receive the following private web links that will allow you to check in at any time and see your donation in action supporting
our classroom, our students, and the future!

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

- A unique web address to a private live camera providing a birds-eye view of our
classroom solar array in action!

If you would like to support any of our projects with a direct donation please contact us

For most of our smaller one-time component/programming/classroom needs
please visit our Amazon Wish List


I will continue to post updates and photos on this page throughout this fundraising campaign.


The outline below shows all of the primary components that have already been donated to Phase One of this project – they include.  

*The Solar Panels. 22 - 240 watt solar modules – donated by Frank Marshall of FLS Energy, a local utility-scale solar installation company from
Asheville, NC. 
Approximate value at time of donation: ~$10,000 

*SMA Inverter with Secure Power. Donated by Bob Harris of BBSI. Value $1700.  Meters and regulated the power from the array and changes solar DC to grid AC power and feeds power into building's grid. Provides "Secure Power" circuit allowing for up to 2000 watts of power during grid outage. 

*Electrical Panels, Wiring and Conduit for the Solar Control System. Donated by Bob Harris of BBSI. Value: $600.00 

*Aluminum Racking for solar panels. Donated by Bob Harris of BBSI. Value: $3,922

*Construction materials.  Donated by Earthshine Nature Programs. Value $1800

*While not directly a part of the solar power system the below items have also been donated to our science classroom.  These items will reduce the energy needs of our classroom thereby making our facility more energy efficient and in turn allowing us to make better use of the energy we produce on site via the solar array.

*LED Classroom lighting systems.  Donated by Trails Carolina/Academy. Value $300

*Four new low energy solid state computers with two low energy 4K LED monitors.
Bob Harris of Siemens Corporation
Value $13,188

*Six new low energy 4K LED monitors and associated hardware.  These are part of our "mission control" corner allowing real-time monitoring of the solar array, closed-circuit monitiring cameras, real time weather and more! 
Value $1,400

*Energy star rated Samsung 55" flat screen TV donated by Trails Carolina Naturalist & ENP Executive Director 
Steve O'Neil Value $700

*Electric motor and components for the conversion of a gas rototiller to electric for use in our organic garden.   Donated by Bob Harris of Siemens Corporation. Value $400

Other monetary donations to this project as of 6/19/18:  

$1000 donated by Jewell Mimms
$1000 donated by Dr. Billy Hagler
$500 donated by Dr. Linda Martinson and Andrew Stratton
$1000 donated by Lake Toxaway Charities
$1230  donated by our GoFundMe project supporters just like you! 

             Total value of donations to date: $38,740


While this campaign is currently working toward raising funds to support Phase Two of our classroom solar project if you would like to support all of
our primary projects - Phase Two and Phase Three and a dedicated nonprofit outreach vehicle - with a one time donation our total needs would be: $60,000.  

If you would like to contribute the total amount please do so via this campaign or via the PayPal link on our donate page.

Please consider supporting us with any phase of our classroom solar projects - THANK YOU!


Other Project Needs for our Science and Nature Center Classroom and Education Animal Habitats

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

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

Through our wonderful partnerships with Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum in which we provide daily nature, science, and environmental education classes to their student populations of at-risk middle and high school age boys and girls and young adults, your support will directly support these students in their growth, appreciation, understanding and support of themselves and in turn the wild places and wild things we all share this beautiful planet with.  

To make this happen we need your help.

Our current wish list consists of major habitat, education, and infrastructure supporting items.  The components we are in need of are listed below with links to the items should you decide to help us shorten our wish list by supporting this campaign.    If you choose to support us anonymously, you may do so by using our 
Amazon Wish List or PayPal link on our donate page .

Education Animal Habitat Supplies
Some of our most popular and most environmentally sensitive education animals are our Eastern hellbenders - “Gollum and Smeagol.”  They are in great need of a primary component of their habitat’s life support system for their 125 gallon mountain stream habitat.

1. New aquarium water chiller for our Eastern Hellbender Habitat 
This unit will replace the older, secondhand, home-built chiller unit with new, more energy efficient and reliable unit for our most sensitive animal habitat.

Classroom supplies
The Earthshine Nature Programs (ENP) outreach team visits many local camps, schools, private organizations and public festivals in order to fulfill its nature and science education mission.  ENP’s Executive Director Steve O’Neil also has a full-time partnership with Trails Carolina Trails Momentum where he teaches twice daily, three-hour long science-based environmental education, wildlife and nature conservation and renewable energy education classes for the student populations from both schools. Although the schools supply him with the use of a building and many wonderful educational materials and training, Steve always tries to go above and beyond to supply what he believes is the “icing on the cake” with more interesting and unique educational materials for many of his class programs and special projects. He covers the cost of these educational offerings via funds raised through ENP programming and often out of pocket.  These items then become property of ENP and will be used in outreach activities and classes while Steve is employed by Trails for many, many years to come. 

1. Dissection Microscope with USB connectivity

From pond water to printed circuits this amazing microscope will be connected to the flatscreen TV allowing the entire class to view what the microscope is viewing.

AmScope microscope with digital camera attachment model# SM-1TSW2-L6W-5M  or the Omax Microscope from our Amazon wishlist.

2. LUXOR MB7240WW (or comparable) Reversible Magnetic Whiteboard via Amazon wishlist.
15083725_1491243877.8872_funddescriptionThis portable whiteboard will greatly enhance Steve's classroom and outreach lessons as well as Science and Nature Center systems planning
and design. 


These are the primary items we are currently in need of but we are always open to general donations of new and used items applicable to our needs, programming and projects. Please feel free to contact us for more information or if you prefer, donate anonymously via our PayPal donate button on our 
donate page.


A note from Executive Director Steve O'Neil

I am working very hard to raise the funds/component donations to complete our classroom solar array project and all of these upgrades and enhancements for the benefit of my students and education animals.  I am doing this under my very small, volunteer operated, 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. 

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 contact me or 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, and research equipment, and 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 (and anyone that will listen) on the proper respect and understanding 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 am passionate about sharing my love, curiosity, and respect for nature, wildlife and wild places with everyone I meet – especially my students and outreach program 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 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, 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.   


Steve O’Neil

Executive Director of Earthshine Nature Programs (501c3)
Naturalist with Trails Carolina and The Academy at Trails Carolina

15083725_1491250022.3516_funddescriptionNaturalist Steve O'Neil with a "Turtle Dog " and radio tracking device. 

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ENP Classroom Solar Project Phase Two Update!

Hello friends and ENP supporters - you know who you are :-)

Much as happened since my last update. I will outline our progress and exciting changes below.

In my last update I shared with you that we had ordered 10 new solar modules, well - they arrived...mostly intact. One of the ten modules was destroyed in shipment, the money was refunded, and the unit will be replaced at no charge to ENP. The remaining 9 healthy modules currently sit in storage awaiting more solar modules that will join them before the installation process begins.

Did he just say MORE solar modules?
Why yes, he did :-)

That's right folks, we have 31 more SolarWorld solar modules* in shipment as we speak. Wait a moment - so if 31 more modules are in shipment, and 9 are in storage, and 20 are in operation on the Phase One array - that would mean that when Phase Two is complete the ENP/Trails Science and Nature Center Classroom will have a grand total of 60 solar modules pushing out up to 16,400 watts of renewably produced solar energy! ( * )


On top of all that awesome, our amazing solar installer Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute
( ) has opted to forgo the before-mentioned roof-mounted array design and mount this stupendous new array on ground mounted frames alongside the existing Phase One array (see my badly photo-shopped attached image for an idea of how this will look when complete). This new design will take more time to complete but when finished it will be more structurally sound and be easier access as a renewable energy education teaching tool for our students and visitors. It will also allow us to have more shading on the south side of the building which will reduce our cooling costs in the summer and provide us with more under-array storage which is always a good thing.

Even more good news!
ENP has been accepted into the Duke Energy solar rebate program* so after our new Phase Two array is complete ENP will receive a substantial rebate check covering much of the costs of the solar modules that we have added to the project - thank you Duke Energy! (*…/renewable-en…/nc-solar-rebates )

While the Duke solar rebate will cover much of the cost of the added solar modules, we must still raise money to cover the costs of the support frame, 2 more SMA solar inverters, and upgrades to the classroom's electrical system.

Our classroom building is older, and over the years we have had many issues with its aging electrical system. These issues have manifested themselves in the overheating of circuits resulting in breakers tripping and outlets overheating which have rendered some circuits inoperable. We have also had the problem of rodents chewing on exposed wires with the building's entire electrical system being exposed under the floor.
For these reasons and for safety's sake, and to facilitate the addition of Phase Two's higher power output, we have decided to upgrade the building's wiring system.

Toward this goal, I have been working with Bob Harris and great friend and ENP supporter Jim Hardy to install a special wiring conduit called wireway inside the classroom (see photos). This wireway will better facilitate updating the wiring, it will also protect the wires/circuits from damage by overheating and from the teeth of rodents. So, as we humans have always done we must use technology to adapt to our environment and these wiring upgrades are part of that adaptation.

These wiring upgrades will make our building safer for our students, visitors, and our education animals. It will allow our combined Phase One and Phase Two solar power systems to produce much more locally produced, clean, renewable power thereby removing our need for grid-produced electricity - most likely entirely - and it may even provide us with a credit each month to then apply to the following month effectively removing our power costs to operate our classroom and nature center. Oh, I almost forgot to mention - this prediction includes the daily charging of the ENP all electric outreach vehicle with clean, solar generated electron fuel!

So to sum it all up: All of your wonderful support (you know who you are :-), the support of the Duke Energy solar rebate program, and the support of amazing people like Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute and Jim Hardy - have made it possible for ENP to expand Phase Two of our classroom solar power project to a scale we did not before envision. This will allow our classroom and nature center to be the best that it can be as a grand environmental awareness, conservation and renewable energy teaching tool for our students, visitors, interns, volunteers, outreach program participants, and friends. The education opportunities for our students will be much richer, our carbon footprint will be much smaller, and our energy bill will be eliminated - all with your support of this amazing project - THANK YOU!

Our new goal is to have Phase Two online and operational early in 2019!!

While your most generous support in the past has facilitated Phase One and the early stages of Phase Two - we respectfully request your continued support of this project.

Every little bit helps so please consider making a tax-deductible, end of year gift to ENP via our GoFundMe campaign:

Or through our PayPal link on our website
( )

Or become a supporter of our work on Patreon
( ).

I will be sure to keep you updated as Phase Two progresses.

Please share :-)

Tours of our classroom available - just ask and we will schedule it :-)
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Classroom Solar Array - Phase Two - Project Update

Today we placed the order for 10 new Solarworld Sunmodule SW 300 - 300 Watt Solar Modules*!

These 10 new solar modules (panels) will be the core of Phase Two of our classroom solar array project.

We decided to purchase our new solar modules from Alt-E* at the expert suggestion of our solar electrician, great friend, and project supporter Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute**.

Why did we choose Solarworld you may ask? For one, they have a great track record for energy production and longevity and they are really tough - check out the embedded video for how tough they really are.

These 10 new solar modules will arrive in a few days and be stored until our new metal roof is installed.

Once the new roof is installed we will then select the best option for mounting hardware then place the hardware order.

Once we have all the needed hardware - the installation of Phase Two will begin.

I will be sure to keep you updated on our progress with images, videos, and posts.

THANK YOU ALL for helping us make this important energy and education project possible.
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Due to your wonderful support on GoFundMe, at our benefit events over the last few months, and support from our Patreon patrons
( )
we have been able to raise enough funds to cover the cost of 7 out of 10 solar modules, their support structures, and wiring needed for the installation of Phase Two of our Classroom Solar Array project.

We are currently in search of funding* for the remaining 3 solar modules and support components and with your support, we are sure to reach our goals in the near future :-)

In preparation for the day when we achieve our goal, we recently began the planning stage for Phase Two. A few days ago, our solar electrician, Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute (, stopped by to take some measurements of the roof in working toward the addition of the 10 new solar modules and their support structures to the rooftop of our classroom!

Below are a few photos from day one of Phase Two!

First photo, Bob is using his solar pathfinder device to locate the best position for the Phase Two solar modules.

Second photo - measuring where the new modules will be placed just below the peak of our classroom's roof so as to be out of the shadow of the chimney.

Third photo - Bob surveys the west end of the roof for best placement of the two modules that are the core of our smaller off-grid solar power system (not technically a part of Phase Two but will be installed at the same time). This 480-watt array will be used to power our classroom presentation computer and 56" monitor in class on a daily basis. This off-grid array will also serve to power key classroom and habitat systems during power outages (until Phase Three is complete and online.) Note - in the background our first student-built solar array project - a 120-watt off-grid power system the students and I constructed in 2014. This off-grid solar array currently powers the turtle pond water filter, electric fencing around our chicken coop and Opossum habitat, as well as a staff use USB/radio charging station in the classroom.

THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who have generously supported this student solar project. Without your generous support this project would not be possible.

Please consider supporting our classroom solar array project and please share our project with your friends - thank you!

*Please consider sponsoring a solar module and its support structure/wiring for$300 per module. Learn more about our solar sponsorship program by reading our GoFundMe story.
+ Read More
Hello everyone! With your support we have now funded three of the ten solar modules (and associated support structure) needed to complete PHASE TWO of our classroom solar array - THANK YOU ALL!!!
Please consider sharing our GoFundMe campaign and our Patreon page with all your friends and together we can make this happen for our students, our classroom, our wildlife, and our shared environment.
Find our Patreon page at:
Take a look at our most recent video - I hope you enjoy it!
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
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$1,280 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 19 months
Created April 3, 2017
Funds raised will benefit:
Earthshine Nature Programs
  Certified Charity
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Pisgah Forest, NC
EIN: 273465594
How it Works
  1. You make a donation using a PayPal account or a credit/debit card to PayPal Giving Fund (a 501(c)(3) charitable organization).
  2. After the deduction of payment processing fees, PayPal Giving Fund delivers the funds it receives to the chosen charity on a monthly basis.*
* If, after reasonable efforts, PayPal Giving Fund cannot deliver donations to this charity, the funds may be donated to another charity per PayPal Giving Fund’s policies.
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Dorit Farrington
1 month ago

Thank you Steve. Our time with you was truly educational and so much fun. We wish you much success with all your future goals! Dorit, Michael and Noa Farrington, NY.

Kathleen Ransier
5 months ago

In honor of Rachel and Ron in celebration of their forthcoming marriage. Kathy

7 months ago

Good luck with your goals! Hope you are reminding folks of box turtles emerging from hibernation this year!!!

Bruce Hutcheson
10 months ago

Earthshine Nature Programs. Making Science Hands On.

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