Unsung Hero — Bob McBride

WSU Kitsap Extension Master Gardener and Kitsap County Parks Volunteer
Bob McBride — Resident of Silverdale, married, two children, five grandchildren
Bob McBride — Resident of Silverdale, married, two children, five grandchildren (Photo courtesy Alex Dudley)

Bob McBride volunteers in several roles in Kitsap County. A Master Gardener, he is involved with various programs at Washington State University’s Kitsap Extension. He also takes care of the Anderson Landing Preserve County Park.

Through both staff and Master Gardener volunteers, the WSU Kitsap Master Gardener Program assists the public, including schools, parks departments, senior living facilities and farmers markets, in delivering quality, science-based horticulture education with both informal training and scheduled classes.

Since becoming a Master Gardener in 1989, McBride has been involved in every activity in the program. Additionally, he volunteers as a stream steward, rain garden mentor and beach helper.

“Bob is a capable outdoorsman whose love of nature translates into community service to steward our wild places and plant the seed of that enjoyment in others, including the next generation,” says Colleen Miko, horticulture educator at the Extension.

WSU Kitsap Master Gardeners donate more than 18,000 hours every year through educational programs and hands-on projects such as Master Gardener Learning Gardens, which provide about 3,000 pounds of organically grown produce yearly to local food banks and teach hundreds of individuals, including youth, to grow their own nutritious food.

Master Gardeners also advise the public on how to garden with least toxic methods, choose appropriate plants for their landscapes (including Northwest natives), encourage wildlife, conserve water and protect natural resources. Staff and volunteers host regularly scheduled “clinics” at public events to answer plant questions, identify and offer solutions to plant problems and provide personalized gardening advice.

McBride never misses an opportunity to promote the Master Gardener Program, as well as the preservation and upkeep of Anderson Landing Preserve, the beautiful Kitsap County park where he donates an immeasurable amount of time. He pulls noxious weeds, maintains trails, picks up trash and promotes the beauty and benefit of native plants. His role as volunteer leader and “voice” for this park has kept the space vital and beautiful and foremost in the minds of community leaders.

McBride served in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps, and after retirement as a commander, he built and remodeled houses for a while as well as working for a short time as a building inspector. Now fully retired, he’s used his carpentry skills to build many of the buildings and structures at the 4 Kitsap demonstration gardens, including at Anna Smith Children’s Garden and the Raab Park Youth Garden.

One of McBride’s many roles is teaching at impromptu and scheduled garden demonstrations. In the summer, he’s a regular part of the Blueberry Park “Kids Cultivate” garden team of Master Gardener educators. In the spring, he teaches demonstrations for Master Gardeners at Raab Park Youth Garden on pruning the espalier fruit trees he originally planted there more than 15 years ago.

Even when asked by WestSound Home & Garden what makes his work worth it, McBride takes the opportunity to educate others. He says, “It gives you a chance to provide information to people that will help the environment. For instance, plants and native plants that do not need a lot of water or care. Be careful when using chemicals. Follow directions listed on the chemicals exactly.”

Named WSU Kitsap’s Master Gardener of the Year in 2012, McBride is well known and loved in the program because he is a “go-to” kind of person.

“The level of commitment he has sustained over the nearly 30 years in our program is amazing and inspirational,” Miko says.

For more information about the WSU Kitsap County Extension, go to extension.wsu.edu/kitsap.

Why Become Involved

To learn about gardening in the Pacific Northwest.

Why this Work is Important

Helping people learn what can be grown here in Kitsap County.

Best Part of the ‘Job’

Working with other Master Gardeners and passing on information about what can be grown here in the Pacific Northwest to other gardeners.

Biggest Challenge

Getting correct information to answer people’s questions.

Best Compliment ‘On the Job’

Thank you with a smile from people I have helped.

Things I Can’t Live Without

I cannot live without the beautiful area we live in and all the vegetables and fruit that we can grow. For example, kale, leaks, tomatoes, figs, apples, kiwis, plums, etc.

Best Way to Relax

Working in my garden, hiking in the county parks and kayaking on the waters of the Salish Sea.

Hobbies Outside of Volunteer Work

Building cabinets, mostly for our kids, and wood turning. We also do a lot of kayaking and kayak camping. Hunting and fishing.