Trudy, the Weekly Challenge is the most active area of this site, and the one with the most potential to help new writers. It develops such skills as writing to a prompt, writing with a time limit, and tight writing (since you're limited to 750 words). Additionally, you're sure to get lots of encouragement there (by way of the comments), and perhaps some slight critique.
The lessons in this forum are (I hope) also helpful for new writers.
And as I mentioned above, FW is trying to drum up more activity in the Critique Circle, which has a huge potential for developing your writing skills.
Most of all, don't worry about jumping in. There are writers of all abilities here, and a community of encouragers. If there's something that you're nervous about, you can always express it here in the forums, and you're sure to get encouragement.