MLTA » Tourism Conference » Edutours


EduTours give you the chance to experience the amazing host-city of Grand Rapids at the 2018 Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism. Pick from an array of opportunities that will show you the pieces of Grand Rapids that make it so unique. You'll see a bit of everything on these local adventures, from gorgeous gardens to the vibrant people in this brewing community. Most importantly, don’t pass up a chance learn how each of these pieces have been incorporated to create the amazing culture and community around Grand Rapids.

Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. (1PM-3PM)

Downtown Grand Rapids has become a popular destination for visitors and area community members. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) is the downtown’s DDA. Their work, on place-making, following a Stategic plan (called GR Forward) to guide future investments, and focus on diversity as a key element of downtown growth, won an international award on how communities can attract more diversity. Learn how DGRI's plan and changes have transpired and what lies ahead for the future.

Grand Rapids Art Museum (3:15PM-5PM)

A Pure Michigan conference should include an opportunity to learn more about the Great Lakes. The timing of this conference is perfect. The Grand Rapids Art Museum is featuring a new traveling exhibit they commissioned with Alexis Rockman. The collaboration began in 2013 when Rockman, the artist, traveled to each of the five Great Lakes, and conducted field research, met with scientists, historians, anthropologists, and ecologists to immerse himself in the ecosystems and communities of the region. The exhibition explores the past, present and future of the Great Lakes. The centerpiece of the exhibition are five mural-sized paintings providing a view of the ecosystem under the surface of the water. This tour will include a tour of the exhibit highlighting the importance of the Great Lakes to Michigan.

Black History Walking Tour (1PM-3:30PM)

Recently, GR Walks, a smart-phone app of historic walking tours, launched a Black History tour of downtown Grand Rapids in collaboration with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI). Join Grand Rapids community leaders for a guided walking tour, following the 2 mile path around downtown. This tour will highlight 11 points of interest that feature historical information about local African-American leadership, while celebrating culture and community.

Frederik Meijer Gardens (1:45PM-4:30PM)

This tour offers participants an opportunity to tour Michigan’s second most visited cultural attraction, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Meijer Gardens recently celebrated its 20th birthday and has embarked on a $115 Million expansion. During this tour, enjoy the popular: Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition in the indoor conservancy and see hundreds of tropical butterflies from Central and South America, Africa and Asia freely flying. Also enjoy a docent lead tour in the indoor art gallery for the exhibition: Drawn into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper. Weather permitting, docents will also lead a nature walk through the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden.

Grand River Restoration (1PM-3PM)

The Grand River, Michigan’s longest at 252 miles, travels from Jackson through downtown Grand Rapids on its way to Lake Michigan. The river holds many stories from our original Native American settlers and the French fur traders to its role in the lumbering industry and furniture manufacturing. Join us on a walking tour of downtown and hear about these stories along with a look to the future and the River Restoration project which will include putting the rapids back in Grand Rapids. The walking tour will be guided by a member of GR Running Tours, but you don’t need to be a runner to keep up.

Start Garden (1PM-3:30PM)

Launched in 2012, Start Garden, in downtown Grand Rapids is committed to establishing a culture of entrepreneurship and investing what they can into that culture. Over the years, they have continued to adjust to the marketplace and community needs. Recently seeking to build a system that breaks from historical disparities in entrepreneurship, with a goal to support all aspiring business owners, they expanded and diversified their leadership team. Tour the Start Garden office and learn how their one-of-a-kind 5x5 Night program is channeling a community of diversity and inclusion. The organization also hosts GRABB 5 - a project launched in collaboration with Grand Rapids Area Black Business and The City of Grand Rapids to accelerate five minority-owned small businesses that are already providing value to the community, but could be growing faster. Through programs designed to help promote diverse business owners in Grand Rapids, Start Garden looks to continue defining West Michigan as a place where businesses are born.

Green Collar Farms (1PM-3:30PM)

Learn how Green Collar Farms revolutionized agriculture by making a huge impact, without a huge carbon footprint. Internationally recognized for their "hydroponic vertical micro-farms," the group yields bumper crops of leafy greens and lettuces, including kale, arugula, bibb, butterhead, deer tongue, mustard, pak choi, spinach and tatsoi. Founder, Brian Harris, will be on hand to explain how his $90,000 investment in container farming is being duplicated around the world as growers use "controlled environment agriculture," or CEA, to combat weather conditions that include desert heat, freeze, drought and flooding. See first-hand how you too can utilize the power of innovation and incorporate the benefits of year-round indoor vertical farming in your area. “We’re not just trying to grow kale; we’re trying to grow community vitality,” said Harris.

Grand Rapids Public Museum (1PM-3PM)

Enjoy an afternoon at the state's oldest and second largest Museum. The Grand Rapids Public Museum will provide a guided tour of the traveling exhibit “Waters Extreme Journey” as well as a behind the scenes experience in Grand Fish, Grand River and the newly renovated Watershed laboratory. Tour attendees will explore Grand River artifacts, see Lake Sturgeon being fed and use augmented reality to build a watershed. Museum educators and others will share experience with the new Grand Rapids Public Museum School and highlight the successes of this innovative learning experience where students attend school at the Museum.

Grand Rapids Brewery Tour (1PM-4PM)

Take an afternoon and experience the tastings of three breweries around Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tour attendees will have samplings of beer at Perrin Brewing, Kickerbocker and Elk Brewery. While enjoying the unique beer flavors, we will experience the behind the scenes makings of the beers produced at Perrin Brewing.