Morrigan Turner’s parents, Peter and Colleen, met while working for Greenpeace, so it’s no surprise that they raised their only child to be interested in environmental and social justice issues.

Turner gladly picked up the mantle, distinguishing herself as a student government leader at South Portland High School, a student representative to the city’s school board and one of three girls at the center of a recent controversy over saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

Through it all, her parents’ support was unwavering.

“My parents always let me make my own decisions,” Turner said. “They just made sure I had the information I needed to make the right decision for myself.”

Turner and two friends set out last fall to make sure their peers understood that, under state and federal law, they couldn’t be forced or pressured to say the pledge each morning. Their effort lit a local firestorm that was picked up by national news outlets and fanned by social media. In April, they won the accord they sought when the school administration adopted their formal pledge procedure.

“In education in general, kids are usually left out of the decision-making process,” Turner said. “It shouldn’t be a hard thing to be heard in school. I saw some students who were unable to share how they were feeling and I just wanted to make sure everyone felt safe and comfortable.”

Also an accomplished dancer who works part time at Red’s Dairy Freeze, Turner attributes her gumption and leadership skills to her experience with the Otisfield-based Seeds of Peace global youth leadership program.

“Seeds has really made me who I am,” Turner said. “It’s given me confidence to speak my mind and to speak up for others.”

Turner will attend Vassar College in New York in the fall. She plans to study environmental science, once again following her parents’ lead. But it’s more than that. She sees a need to provide answers in the raging political debates about climate change, renewable energy and the impact of fossil fuels, including the ongoing fight over the future of the crude oil pipeline on South Portland’s waterfront.

“It’s the most practical science,” Turner said of her intended course of study. “It’s all about current events and what’s happening right in front of us.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.