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About the founder and director

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Naturalist Steve O'Neil is the founder and Executive Director of ENP  

He is from Hendersonville, North Carolina. 

A bit of a history lesson by Steve O'Neil.

The course of my life was set early on as a child growing up on a farm in the country near Hendersonville, NC. It was there that I developed a passionate curiosity and love for nature and for all living things - especially amphibians and reptiles and other misunderstood wild creatures such as Opossums, bats, and more. 


Then, in Mr. Jackson’s 6th-grade classroom, I learned about the energy sources that power our society…and I also learned that these energy sources were creating pollution that was directly harming nature, wildlife, and our health. It was also in sixth grade that I learned about, and was captivated by, new technological solutions to the energy and pollution problems we were facing – These included clean, renewable energy and electric vehicles powered by that energy.


Ever since the inspiration of those early lessons, I have devoted my life to learning, teaching, and inspiring others about the beauty and wonder of wildlife and the natural world, our connections to nature, and how we can use cleaner energy and transportation sources to better conserve and protect the environment that we are so intricately connected to and depend on for our very survival.


This calling prompted me to found my non-profit organization, Earthshine Nature Programs (ENP), in 2010. ENP is a true nonprofit organization in that it is 100% volunteer-owned and operated with all programming income and donations being used to cover the cost of our nonprofit operations and educational projects - no one at ENP collects a salary. I truly believe that ENP's outreach programs throughout Western North Carolina have inspired thousands of people of all ages to better understand, conserve, and protect our wildlife and our shared natural environment.


For over a decade I have also worked as a naturalist and science educator at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum, where I teach students ages 10 through their early 20s, how they can work to better understand and care for the natural world and themselves. My Trails students directly benefit from my nonprofit programs and projects since the ENP classroom is also their classroom - it is a win-win situation for all populations.

During my college years, I studied wildlife and fisheries management and recreation management as well as zooarchaeology. 

I have worked in many interesting seasonal and full-time positions at many well-known private, State, and National Parks, private inns, camps, and farms some of these include The Great Smoky Mountain National Park(TN/NC), Hammocks Beach State Park(NC), Chimney Rock State Park(NC), Falling Creek Camp for Boys(NC), Flat Rock Nature Canter(NC), Kitty Hawk Aero Tours(NC), The Great Smoky Mountains Railway(NC), Little Saint Simons Island Inn(GA), and Earthshine Lodge/Discovery Center(NC), Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum(NC).  


My job titles have included: seasonal park ranger, trail ranger,  interpretive naturalist, camp counselor, nuisance black bear, wild boar, Timber rattlesnake trapper/relocator, aircraft mechanics assistant, and science communicator. 

My passions are reptiles and wildlife conservation, public nature education, renewable energy and Electric Vehicle(EV) technologies, and science literacy.  I was greatly inspired to follow his dream of working with wildlife in his early years first by my adoptive parents Catherine and Clayton O'Neil who gave me a love for all things natural and real.  Later I was influenced by Marlin Perkins and Jim on Wild Kingdom, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Sir David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Grizzly Adams, Carl Sagan, Marty Stouffer's Wild America, Rachel Carson, Harry Butler Down Under, Steve Irwin "The Crocodile Hunter," Captain Paul Watson of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Elon Musk and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. 

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I have conducted hundreds of nature, wildlife, and music presentations to thousands of children and adults over the years.  I have led many camper groups of youngsters and adults into forests, fields, caves, swamps, and dunes in search of all things and all places wild and wonderful.  I am a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles and Opossums. 


I have put in hundreds of volunteer hours keeping track of several wild turtles and snakes in the wilds of WNC, and worked as a volunteer citizen scientist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Nongame-Endangered Wildlife program monitoring threatened reptiles, amphibians, and bats.  

I am a great advocate of protecting our shared environment - the environmental life-support systems that give us all life. 


Not only do I support taking better care of our wildlife and our environment, but I also support using domestically produced renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies to power our lives and move us around. 


I feel that by using these technologies, a person will be helping to protect and conserve nature and wildlife in a way that does not pollute the environment like traditional internal combustion engine-powered vehicles--especially if the EV is powered by renewable energy sources. 


Countless peer-reviewed research projects, coupled with my ongoing research, almost a decade of EV driving experience, as well as a lifetime of interest and in-depth study of these technologies, as well as the rapidly growing fleet of available EVs, and the ramping up of renewable energy installations around the USA and the world, suggest to me that fossil fuels have reached the end of their usefulness in daily-driver-type vehicles and have in fact become a great detriment to our continued existence and future prosperity.

Evidence suggests the primary downsides of these legacy fuels and technologies come from many factors with the following being the most detrimental to our futures:

1. Their supply chain and point-of-use emissions/pollution is toxic to all life and cannot be made safe. 

2. They are horribly inefficient at the point of use and their extraction, refining, and transportation methods often use almost as much energy as they produce at the consumer point of use.


3. Their finite nature. As single-use products - they can only be used once - and when they run out - then what? 

4. Their deep connections to international and domestic political instability, division, infighting, war, and terrorism. 


5. Their very long and complex supply chains, and the simple fact that they have abysmal Leave No Trace ethics.

6. They have so many moving parts stretching all over the globe and if any one of these parts fails - the entire system fails.  Then what? 


Therefore, I believe it is only logical that fossil fuels should be retired as fast as reasonably possible as our society's primary energy and fuel sources* and replaced with cleaner, energy-secure, distributed, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, gravity, wave, and tidal energy sources coupled with the latest in energy storage technologies.  *Keeping the remaining fossil fuels as backup energy sources for times of high demand/natural disaster situations and also for long-haul aircraft, ships, and trucks as well as rockets and interplanetary probes and research projects. 


My support of this system-wide energy and transportation conversion is not in any way driven by a political leaning or a desire for profit - I do not play politics nor am I driven by a need to acquire profit.  My support for these technologies is driven only by the best available evidence-supported peer-reviewed science, my own experience using these technologies, and above all else - a passionate commitment to stewardship and conservation of nature, wildlife, and our shared environment, and a deep desire to preserve our environment, our health, and our futures. 

Steve's Suggestions

Steve Recommended Movies:

Star Wars (all of them)

Star Trek (all of them in sequence) 

Indiana Jones (all of them)

Serenity (Sequel to Firefly but watch only AFTER watching the entire Firefly series) 

The Great Escape

The Italian Job (original and new)

Hidden Figures

Apollo 13

First Man


The Martian

Steve Recommended Books:

Science and Nature Reference 

Cosmos – Carl Sagan

Earth in Human Hands – David Grinspoon

Venomous – Christie Wilcox

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

Undeniable – Bill Nye

Everything All At Once - Bill Nye 

Merchants of Doubt - Naomi Oreskes

The Ghosts of Evolution - Connie Barlow

Nature is Trying to Kill You - Dan Riskin

Clean Disruption - Tony Seba

Vulture - Katie Fallon

America's Snake - Ted Levin

Spillover - David Quammen

Immune - Kurzegestagt

Fiction/Science Fiction

Anything by Andy Wier

Anything by Arthur C. Clarke

Anything by Isacc Azimov

Sahara – Clive Cussler

Inca Gold – Clive Cussler  

Anything by Clive Cussler

Anything by Carl Hiaasen

Anything by Gary Larson

Steve Recommended TV Shows:

Steve Recommended Documentaries:

Bill Nye the Science Guy (Netflix)

Bill Nye Saves the World (Netflix)

Star Talk (Netflix and others)

Whale Wars


Star Wars - all and the animated series

Star Trek - all in sequence 

Firefly (Netflix)

Battlestar Galactica (original series and reboot) 


That 70's Show

Andy Griffith Show

Magnum PI (old and new)

MacGyver (old and new)


These may be found on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vimeo, DirecTV/Dish Network, Disnay+, Curiosity Stream, etc

Cosmos (original) – Carl Sagan

Cosmos (reboot) – Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Seth McFarlane

Cosmos - Possible Worlds - Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Seth McFarlane

Racing Extinction - Louie Psihoyos, Leilani Munter, Elon Musk

Your Inner Fish, Your Inner Reptile, Your Inner Monkey – Neil Shubin

National Geographic Explorer - all of them

Nova - all of them

Planet Earth and Planet Earth 2

The Day The Dinosaurs Died - NOVA

Who Killed the Neanderthals

One Strange Rock

Seven Worlds One Planet

Sharkwater and Sharkwater Extinction and REvolution – Rob Stewart and Sea Shepherd

The Cove


Chasing Ice

Merchants of Doubt - Naomi Oreskes

Who Killed the Electic Car

Revenge of the Electric Car


Gasland II

Supersize Me

Food Inc.


Countdown: The Insparation4 Mission to Space

Steve recommended Youtube:

Science Steve’s Channel: Look up Earthshine Nature Programs or go there now.


Big Think

Evan Hadfield's Rare Earth

Earth Guardians

Everyday Astronaut

Lab Padre

Fragile Oasis

Fully charged show


Jared Owen

Leilani Munter

Louie Swartzberg


Minute Earth


NASA Johnson

NASA/Jet Propultion Laborotory 

National Geographic


Physics Girl

Prince Ea

RadioLab WNYC


Shots of Awe



Stated Clearly and Stated Casually 

It's OK to be Smart






TedX Talks


The Muppets

The Nature Conservancy

The Planetary Society

Transport Evolved


Xavier Rudd

Earthshine nature programs

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