At the end of this month Michael Friedlander will be turning 18, and in past years he has proved that he’s very committed to the science community.

Friedlander began his journey as a student activist when he joined the National Honor Society his junior year at Benjamin Franklin High School. His volunteer services grew to include a charitable bake sale.

Friedlander’s love for volunteering began the summer before eighth grade when he began volunteering for the Audubon Nature Institute’s insect branch. Over the past few years, Friedlander has worked at the Insect Rearing Facility, in New Orleans East, and the Audubon Insectarium. Even though he’s now a part-time employee, Friedlander still volunteers on his days off and throughout the year.

Friedlander says, “During my time at Audubon, I was able to explore passions that would have otherwise been unavailable to me. I also worked closely with many different coworkers who came from all different backgrounds, and each treated me with a sense of respect that allowed me to easily feel a member of the team.

“Aside from helping me to grow personally and giving me a feeling of being welcome in an enormous family, my work at Audubon also made me feel as if I truly had the ability to make a difference. I realized how even the apparently smallest actions, such as informing people of the benefits insects play in our society, or by helping them realize why the natural matters, could have tremendous ripple effects.”

Friedlander believes that working for your community allows one to grow as a person, and to see others in a new light. “I believe that a community will be stronger if it’s built and maintained by its own volunteers rather than relying on payment from the government or other large, external institutions,” he says.

Friedlander is also involved in Ben Franklin’s nationally award-winning magazine Riverbend Review and the Asian Pacific Club; he also played both Premier and Varsity soccer. Recently, he went on a trip to Louisiana University’s Marine Consortium, where he and several other students explored different science-minded activities and attended a wetlands lecture. For the past two years, Friedlander has been a member of Science Olympiad and is eagerly preparing and waiting for this year’s competition. He is interested in a variety of fields including entomology, engineering, writing and several others, and hopes to work and volunteer in any community to which he moves.