Lizzy Horn, 28, is wildlife researcher for Empowering Futures, one of the recipients of our Megawatt Community Energy Fund. She helped identify wildlife for a book the care farm are using to help people connect with the natural world. Here she tells her inspiring story – about how illness changed the way she saw nature and why it is so important to value people for who they are.
I first came to the farm during lockdown in 2021. One of my friends knew about it. I wanted to come and see the goats. City farms are too overwhelming, there are a lot of kids, it’s quite noisy. At Empowering Futures they keep numbers small so everyone has the space they need. After speaking to staff here about their plans to create more biodiversity, I realised I knew quite a bit about it and could help them.
We started recording the insects last year. We recorded 18 different insects, this year we’ve already identified 44. One of the species we spotted for the first time this year is the large skipper butterfly. It’s sort of browny orange, very pretty and quite small. I find it really fascinating – how all the insects fit into the wider ecosystem. Verbena, for example, is really good for butterflies and moths. The plant has purple flowers and is quite tall. Moths are good for birds and bats as well because they are nocturnal. The smaller birds are good for birds of prey. Most of the time I’m bed-bound so it means that I can still be part of the team here. They send me pictures of the insects and other things on Whatsapp and I identify them.
I’ve always been interested in nature in general, but since I’ve been ill I’ve appreciated it a lot more. I think a lot of the knowledge I picked up because I have a lot of time when I can’t do anything. I’ll be sitting out in the garden just watching. I’ve learnt a lot of behaviours and things that other people might not notice because they are doing things.
It’s been really nice to be a valued part of a community. I feel like there’s been a lot of time with my illness of people being like ok you don’t fit this box, you can’t do this or that. Here it’s about what you can do rather than what you can’t do.
Empowering Futures hope to hand out the book at schools and get the word out. The book is for anyone with an interest in these things but also children with additional needs. I hope that people will just be opened up a bit more to how amazing tiny things that you might walk past can be.
Lizzy’s wildlife tips
- The best time of year to spot mini beasts is May-June when a lot of them start to hatch
- Small acts can make a big difference – try putting a planter outside your front door or a basin in your back garden to make a pond
- Take a moment to stop and look – it is wonderful to know more about how things fit into life
Empowering Futures received the Megawatt Community Energy Fund in 2022 to develop a programme of activities to educate children with disabilities about the effects of global heating. Since 2011, we have distributed over £350,000 in
direct community benefit funds to the local region.