Megan Sorbo, left, with her mother, Tina, and brother, Trevor, at the family’s home near Orlando. The bear photographs on the wall were taken by Megan’s mom during a vacation to Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. (Stephen Hudak/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)
Photo: Stephen Hudak
Photo: Stephen Hudak

Teen speaks up for native Florida

When Megan Sorbo first spoke out for Florida black bears at a public meeting, she was 9 and needed a step stool to see over the podium.

In the years since, the homeschooled Orlando, Fla., girl, now 13, has taken up for not only bears but also panthers, the Everglades and the Split Oak Forest.

An advocate for Florida’s natural resources, she’s cajoled, chastised and charmed governing bodies for the state wildlife commission, water-management districts and several county governments.

“This girl has clearly found her voice,” said Mike Orlando, a wildlife biologist. “Whether you agree with her or not, you have to respect her. She’s smart and thoughtful.”

Recently, she urged state wildlife commissioners to ax hunting as an option to manage bear populations and asked Orange County commissioners to protect Split Oak Forest from a road plan.

“Just because kids can’t vote doesn’t mean we don’t care,” she told commissioners. “Just because kids aren’t doctors or lawyers or professors yet doesn’t mean our voices matter less.”

Like the Split Oak proposal, many of the issues she opposed were nonetheless adopted, but she remains optimistic.

Her words are her own, her brother said.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, these kids have parents planting stuff in their brains.’ But that’s completely not true of my sister,” Trevor Sorbo said.

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