The Big Dream
My mother once said that if you can dream it you can do it and I believe that with all my heart. My original dream of forming a science based non-profit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation organization focusing on the misunderstood creatures of the world became a reality in 2010 with the formation of Earthshine Nature Programs.
Since 2010 Earthshine Nature Programs has rescued countless Eastern box turtles, snakes, and Opossums--many of which were rehabilitated and released back into their native habitats. During this time we also built our first nature education center in a small storage room under the porch of Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway, NC. This quaint location was our home base for 2.5 years and from this base, we introduced thousands of people to the wonders of nature through our animal ambassadors--non-releasable and rescued reptiles, amphibians and opossums. During this time we also took our animals on the road and presented hundreds of wildlife education and conservation-based animal shows to thousands of people at many different venues in order to get our primary message of wildlife and nature respect, understanding, and conservation to as many people that will listen.
In late 2012 we moved our nature center to the campus of The Academy at Trails Carolina (now Trails Momentum) near Dupont Forest, NC where we expanded our space and programming to include not only wildlife conservation, rehabilitation, and citizen science but also natural resource management and conservation and renewable energy systems and applications. Now we are reaching even more people--especially children, and I believe they are the ones that need the message the most because, if they are inspired and their curiosity is renewed to that of a small child, then hopefully a seed of awareness, openness, wonder, and respect will be planted within their young minds and they will grow to do great things nature and for the world.
We did not do it alone, we did it with the help of many of you, our supporters, it was you that made this all possible. It was you that have truly made a difference in the way thousands of people view, respect and understand some of the most misunderstood and even feared animals on earth--insects, arachnids, reptiles, amphibians, and the amazing Opossum. Your support is helping to make possible the continued education of thousands of misunderstood students who pass through our Trails Science nature center classroom where they meet and learn about these misunderstood animals and where hopefully, they will see something of themselves in the story of an injured or homeless turtle, lizard, opossum or snake. It is you that are continuing to make it possible for Earthshine Nature Programs to go on the road to visit schools, camps, festivals, birthday parties, and more. It is you that have made it possible for us to conduct our multi-year field research projects that followed in the Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks of several wild Eastern box turtles, Rat snakes, and, for four years - two Timber rattlesnakes. The Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks projects have introduced thousands of students, families, and others to the beautiful worlds of nature and science, as well as allowing us to compile extensive life-history data on the lives of these wild reptiles. This data is shared with the world via our classes at Trails, our outreach programs, online nature blogs, and on the ENP YouTube site, and one day soon this data will be published in scientific journals (and a children's book I hope) and be preserved for all time. This will allow it to be applied toward the continued conservation of these beautiful and often misunderstood animals long after we are gone. It is for all of these reasons and so many more that I, and the animals, and future wildlife protectors thank you beyond measure.
Now, the dream that started under the porch at Earthshine has grown into a grand vision for the future. A vision of a future where Earthshine Nature Programs will continue not only its wildlife conservation and rehabilitation programs but also include expanded program offerings including but not limited to; nature, ecology, science, renewable energy, organic gardening, animal husbandry, farming, apiculture, living history, and education program offerings on a much larger scale.
We envision constructing a state-of-the-art education facility located on several acres of land central to the Asheville/Hendersonville/Brevard area of Western North Carolina. This facility will serve to provide daily, on-site, and outreach education programs and would charge admissions to the general public and private for-profit schools, camps, organizations, and treatment centers - but it would be either 100% free or a very low cost (on a case by case basis) to public schools and other non-profit, educational, marginalized populations, and non-profit organizations who do not or claim to not have money budgeted for field trips! The facility would house native and exotic wildlife exhibits, a "petting zoo," guided and self-guided nature trails, a working farm, and a large forest/nature/wildlife preserve with low-impact primitive camping areas. Closer to the center of campus there would be log cabin and yurt-based camping facilities, a rustic "tiny home" style hostel for visiting students, interns, scientists, and a caretaker/campground host.
The ENP team of educators would provide outreach programs to schools, camps, and special events, operate a wildlife hospital serving injured wildlife from across the region and provide a scholarship program for students and interns from regional colleges and universities working on projects that focus on wildlife and nature conservation, environmental science, renewable energy, permaculture and more.
We would partner with local like-minded wildlife conservation, traditional, non-traditional, and therapeutic education organizations, and renewable energy providers to showcase their missions and technologies.
The structure itself will be a state-of-the-art environmentally friendly, earth-sheltered, net-zero, and carbon-neutral, education facility that will house - not only a collection of non-releasable education animals from all over the world, but also heirloom variety vegetables and farm animals, green rooftops, organic and permaculture gardens, organic fruit, and berry orchards and vineyards. The facility will be powered by 100% renewable energies such as solar, wind, and geothermal heating systems and provide renewable energy-powered electric vehicle charging stations for the fast-growing local fleet of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Any excess power generated on-site that was not used by the facility would be fed back into the local grid for the benefit of all. Ideally, this site would reside on a large tract of land, most of which would be preserved in a conservation easement as a nature and wildlife preserve and study area.
To make this grand dream a reality we will need your support. If you are interested in becoming a part of this dream please contact me and we will discuss making this dream a reality.