Be INspiring Like Bob!
When asked what they want to be when they grow up, most kids will say a superhero or a doctor, but not the kids who know Bob Carey; they want to be like him when they grow up. Jolene Ogle discovers why.
“Bob embodies kindness, patience and empathy,” says Di Seels of the Sunshine Beach State School permaculture program.
“The kids all say they want to be like ‘Blueberry’ Bob when they grow up.”
We are sitting in light rain under the canopy of a huge native tree. Birds soar overhead looking for a place to rest, native bees buzz by and ants march over the leaves that form a crunchy carpet below us.
Bob sits on a bench in the outdoor classroom, his signature Glossy Black Cockatoo tail feather tucked in his pocket and eyes focused on the sky searching for any feathered friends who might visit the leafy enclave of Sunshine Beach State School’s school kitchen garden.
Twelve years ago, Bob was asked to give a speech to year 6 students about the Glossy Black Cockatoo and he soon found himself volunteering in the permaculture garden alongside Di, sharing a passion for all things nature.
“I’ve never been a person to stand in front of a class of kids before, but I found I could do it and I have done it a few times now,” Bob says. “I have such a passion for the environment and the Glossy Black Cockatoo.”
For more than a decade, Bob and Di have worked with students to turn a blank space into a thriving permaculture garden with an abundance of fruits and vegetables growing throughout the circular area.
When the school was first built, a section of the original bushland was left untouched and this area is now an inspiring space for kids to work in a calm and natural environment to learn the joys of growing and harvesting real food.
Supported by the school staff as well as community groups including the Men’s Shed, Noosa Integrated Catchment Association and Slow Food Noosa, Di and Bob have been able to show students how to grow food, as well as implement a host of programs including bush tucker planting, bush walks and so much more.
For Bob, who has always been a volunteer and continues to dedicate two days a week to the program, the experience is all about giving.
“The kids are smiling and laughing, why wouldn’t I want to be here,” he says humbly. “I could be playing golf or anything, but I love this.
“It takes a village to raise a child and I’m part of that village. I’m giving yet I’m receiving at the same time.”
He spends his time taking children on bushwalks, pointing out native beehives; identifying butterflies and edible plants; understanding the life cycle of plants and animals; and creating an enriching experience for all involved.
“It’s all about being relaxed with nature. I’m always so pleased to see the different plants,” he explains. “I bring the kids down and we do a sensory walk and feel all the leaves. It’s all about learning.”
Di and Bob have a saying and that is they may go home exhausted, but their ‘soul bucket’ is always overflowing.