Teen and adult writers flourish, thanks to the Laura (Riding) Jackson Foundation.
The Laura (Riding) Jackson Foundation honors the late poet by developing today’s writers. Established in 1991 to preserve Jackson’s home and literature, in 2000 the nonprofit expanded its focus to offer seasonal programs for a new generation of writers: teenagers.
During a lunch meeting 16 years ago, foundation board member Charlotte Terry and college admissions counselor Pam Proctor pooled their resources. “Charlotte had a passion for literature and spreading culture in Vero Beach,” says Proctor. “My thing was to help kids find a ‘hook’ for their college applications.” At the time, Proctor was a consultant for the International Baccalaureate program at Sebastian River High School; and she noticed that while many teens wanted to be writers, none had been published or knew how to go about it. “I thought, ‘These kids need a venue to show off their talents,’” she explains.
In July of 2000, the foundation held its first Teen Writers Workshop featuring novelist David Hagberg on the porch of the Laura (Riding) Jackson home. “The night before it had rained and there were mosquitoes all over, so we were all swabbing ourselves in mosquito repellent,” recalls Proctor. “We were afraid the kids would never come back, but they all came back. After that we realized we needed to have an indoor venue.” From then on, the three-hour workshops were held in an Environmental Learning Center (ELC) classroom.