Laura Wakefield has been attending Osceola County Historical Society events for years. Born and raised in Osceola County, Laura was a history teacher in the county for over 18 years and would bring her students to the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek to research local history. In June 2018, Laura joined the OCHS team as a grant specialist. Larissa Bixby caught up with Laura to get to know her a bit better.
LB: Let’s start with OCHS’s most important question, why do you think it is important to preserve history?
LW: History comes alive when people can physically see and experience places where people lived, examine artifacts from the past, appreciate photographs depicting people and places that were once here, and study what was written. Preserving our past connects us to our cultural legacy and helps us understand all the things that made us who we are today. The historical society plays a vital role in this community especially because many of the people in Osceola County did not grow up here. Learning about the families, businesses, and events that shaped Osceola County’s past can strengthen a resident’s connections to their community. Knowing local history helps us develop a deeper understanding of a place and a vision of what our community can become. And, of course, with knowledge comes appreciation which leads to preservation.
LB: What do you enjoy most about your position as Grant Specialist?
LW: I like creating opportunities for people to discover history. It isn’t always easy to find funding for history. When I can write a grant that can help people learn more about history, I feel like I have made a difference.
LB: What do you do in your free time?
LW: I recently retired from a career teaching history. I am looking forward to working on family history (genealogy) and spending more time with my grandchildren. I continue to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Council for History Education and work with history teachers through a Library of Congress grant I wrote. I also enjoy serving as a youth Sunday School teacher at my church. And of course, I love to travel.
LB: What three traits define you?
LW: Positive, Responsible, Imaginative
LB: And what is your personal philosophy?
LW: Do all the good you can and find joy in the journey.
LB: What is the best book you have ever read?
LW: It is hard to pick just one. One of my favorites is Paul Revere’s Rideby David Hackett Fischer. It explores what really happened on that pivotal night in American history.
LB: What is your favorite blog or podcast?
LW: “Backstory” – it’s a great history podcast and I know the historians who host it.
LB: I’ll have to listen to it! What’s one thing you cannot resist?
LW: Reading historical markers – ask my kids!
LB: I have a compulsion to read those when I see them, too. What is your favorite place to be?
LW: The beach! Or one of Florida’s beautiful springs.
LB: And what is your favorite thing to do?
LW: Spend time with my husband, our four children and their families - and bonus points if we can be together at a historical site!
LB: That sounds so wonderful, Laura. I have one last question, tell us something that might surprise us about you.
LW: I was a US Army Officer for four years.
Photo Courtesy: Laura Wakefield