How Vicki Cobb Revised My Life
When I answered my phone that day in 2009, I had no idea that my life would soon be changed dramatically. Vicki Cobb , whom I’d never met and only knew of as the author of “Science Experiments You Can Eat” was on the line. She explained that she had awoken suddenly in the night not long ago with an idea—why not create a group of respected nonfiction writers for children who would offer a new service—speaking to educational conferences and/or schools by way of the internet instead of in person. It’d be a win-win proposition—the author would attend virtually and avoid unnecessary travel, and the school or conference organizers would save money—no meals and hotel bills; no travel costs; just a fee for the author’s virtual attendance. Brilliant!
Vicki wanted to recruit me to become a founder and to invest $1000 for 20% of the money needed to start the business. I was quite taken aback—I liked the idea but I’d just been inspired to consider starting my own new business promoting businesses to add plants to their office spaces—plants help clean the air and also provide a touch of Nature to the employees.
I couldn’t do both of those things, but deciding to expand my own working world was clearly on my plate, and this amazingly convincing woman on my phone was not to be denied. I realized that she wouldn’t give up—I felt I had no choice but to set aside the plants and say “Yes” and join into helping found her brilliantly conceived organization, which she had dubbed iNK Think Tank.
Vicki was truly “a force of nature” as so many have commented—not only in her determination and persuasive abilities but also in her passion for communicating with young people around “Nature” and natural science.
As a visionary, Vicki was technologically ahead of her time. Our early endeavors to reach and work with schools were fraught with problems—many teachers had no idea how to bring in outside people into their classrooms virtually; some schools had multi-layered firewalls to protect themselves from outside influences; librarians, teachers, and tech workers didn’t communicate well with one another, and so on.
But Vicki knew she had a great concept and she kept going, knowing what we had to offer was a golden opportunity for authors, teachers, librarians, and especially for children, who could see a “real author” right there on a screen in their classroom talking directly to them about the amazing real world around them, inspiring them to want to learn and know and love nature, history, and the arts.
Vicki’s determination eventually triumphed, as she helped us authors communicate our passions through school presentations via the Authors on Call program; the free Nonfiction Minute, which provided daily 400-word tidbits about interesting real world subjects; a free database of authors’ books that helped teachers and librarians find appropriate books for their subject matter; and more.
Thanks to Vicki, we became a group of like-minded, award-winning authors who have become one another’s friends and colleagues and who help us feel less alone as we create our books and presentations.
The authors of iNK Think Tank will continue to thrive, thanks to the hard work of not only Vicki but the other members of our organization who strive to do our best for young readers. We will always miss Vicki and her optimistic creative genius, and we will continue to be inspired by her spirit.