For Christina Winder and Russell Chavey, giving back to the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) is a way for them to recognize and honor the place where their budding romance began in the early 1970s. As an undergraduate student, Winder took classes at UMBS, and now the couple is looking forward to giving back to help other students take advantage of the unique academic experience the station offers.
“Our hope,” Winder said, “is that others may enjoy the bounty of intellectual rigor and the transcendent experience of nature afforded by the U of M Biological Station.”
While the two didn’t exactly meet at the Station, it was the reason Winder ended up in Northern Michigan during the summer of 1973. She signed up to take classes at UMBS at the same time that Chavey was staying in Gaylord, south of Pellston. They first met as lab partners in physics, but their romance “was kindled by that summer in Pellston,” she said.
Having taken Ed Voss’s Boreal Flora class and Geology of Michigan that summer, Winder returned to U-M to finish her botany degree. She then went on to graduate school and eventually studied medicine.
“My interest in plants and ecosystems and natural science is now avocational,” she said. “But my sense of awe is most directly tied to the natural world. The Biological Station gave me a marvelous experience and a [life-changing] set of tools to understand our world.”
Now, after 39 years of marriage, three daughters who also attended U of M, and successful careers as family doctors, Winder and Chavey are giving back to UMBS. The pair have created the Winder Family Scholarship to help students cover the cost of UMBS tuition. With a partial match from U-M, the scholarship fund totals about $255,000.
“The Biological Station seems like something that, for some people, will make a big impact,” Chavey said. “A lot of students could benefit from it, but might not be able to do it. We thought, ‘Maybe we can do something.’”