Seven-year-old Ivy Jeffery is a bundle of energy.
She’s barely sat still from the moment she welcomed me at the door to her Sheffield home, with a massive smile on her face.
The coffee table in the middle of the living room is filled with papers - projects, articles, research. Ivy’s been busy.
“This is pretty standard for Ivy,” smiles her mum, Laura.
“Something will spark her interest - space, nature, history - and she wants to know everything about it. She’ll do research, jotting down everything she learns and when she’s found out all there is to know, she’ll move on to the next thing.”
The article on the top of the pile bears the byline ‘Ivy R Jeffery,’ and the title: ‘Sheffield will soon no longer be a green city.’
I’m interested in lots of different things - I love wildlife and like reading about clever people
“That’s one of her latest projects,” Laura explains.
“With all the felling that’s been going on, Ivy has been learning about the importance of trees. She’s made signs and leaflets which we’re going to hand out later this afternoon and is keen to attend some of the local protests.”
I flick quickly through the article, filled with facts and details Ivy has recorded, as well as a little of the science. A quote at the bottom from ‘local resident Ivy’ reads: “Everything will die without trees. If people carry on chopping down trees like this for silly old boring money, then all humans will die. Sheffield Council want to chop these trees down just to make the pavements flatter. What would you choose? Tripping up, or suffocating?”
I love this kid.
Ivy first appeared on my radar when she emailed an article she’d written to The Star offices, reporting on a local incident, which saw local firemen rescue a dog stranded in the water at Millhouses Park.
‘It was a typical soggy Tuesday and we went out to the park to jump in the puddles,’ Ivy reported.
‘On the way back to the car park we saw a crowd of people looking at the river. The reporter in me started to get active.
‘I gasped when I saw a stranded dog on a little island surrounded by fast flowing water and rapids. How the dog got there remains still a mystery, but I am trying to contact the dog owner for further information.
‘In the distance, I heard a fire engine speeding. Everyone was very worried about the dog jumping into the river and getting washed away. But it had the sense not to!
‘The fireman tried to get the dog using a big long yellow pole that dog catchers use but it didn’t work. The dog was too clever for that trick.
‘Next they put a ladder across and a brave fireman put a life jacket on and clambered across and picked up the dog carefully and gave it to the owner.
‘The owner was pleased to have her dog back and said “Thank you so so much...oh you stupid dog!!”’
Ivy even included pictures and video with her article, entitled ‘The Big Rescue,’ leaving everyone in editorial blown away by her gumption.
“I love to look for exciting things to investigate and write about,” Ivy tells me, her eyes shining.
“I’m interested in lots of different things - I love wildlife and like reading about clever people - and I quite like the idea of being a writer or a reporter, or maybe a presenter. I’m not sure at the moment, there are just too many choices.”
And Ivy has just launched her own YouTube channel which is starting to build up local reports, and even features her very own ‘audiobook’ which she recorded for little sister Olive to listen to at bedtime - complete with intro music she played herself on the piano.
“I’m in the middle of filming a documentary about ducks with my mum for my YouTube channel, I’m really interested in ducks at the moment,” she nods seriously.
“I’m also really curious about woodlice and snails, so my mum and dad let me have a pet snail for a while so I could watch what they do. And I’ve been finding out quite a lot about Caroline Herschel after I saw something about her on the TV show ‘Absolute Genius.’ She was an astronomer who discovered several comets and was the first woman to be paid for services to science.”
Ivy, of Millhouses, is currently homeschooled by parents Laura and John, along with five-year-old sister Olive.
“Ivy attended a local school until year two, and enjoyed it,” confirms Laura.
“But then they started with SATs and all the box-ticking, and she wasn’t enjoying it the same, so we decided to give homeschooling a try.
“The criteria for homeschooling is that we provide ‘a suitable education’ - and they girls are certainly getting that!
“We do lots of learning and Ivy has so many interests so it’s never a chore to get her working on something.”
And when I ask Ivy for the name of someone she admires, she’s quick with her answer:
“Chris Packham,” she blurts out.
Chris, who presents the children’s nature series Springwatch,’ is a nature photographer, presenter and author.
Laura, aged 39, adds: “Ivy was watching David Attenborough documentaries when she was three, and she’s always loved animals. I think she’d love to do what Chris does.”
“It’s wonderful to see her engaged with so many different things, we’re just supporting her interests as much as we can.”
And what about Ivy’s least favourite subject?
“Hmm, I don’t think I have one,” she says, shaking her head.
“Everything is fun!”