The Connection: Spring Break Recap

The Connection is a membership level at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park,  comprising of a group young professionals in the area who wish to help “promote the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environments and the arts” in an innovative and way.

On April 19, The Connection held a Spring Break event that featured food from Qdoba Mexican Grill, an open bar, hands-on activities, a “Behind-the-Greens” tour with Director of Horticulture, Steve LaWarre, live entertainment, networking and more.

Recapping the event is Connection Steering Committee Member and Associate at Dykema, Elisa Lintemuth. Lintemuth has been an active member of The Connection since 2010.

Guests of The Connection mingled before the "Behind-the-Greens" tour.

Who, what, where, when?
On Thursday, April 19, I attended The Connection’s Spring Break event at Meijer Gardens. Spring was in the air as we ate dinner from Qdoba to the tropical sounds of Greg Secor of Pangea on the steel drums. After time to socialize and enjoy the open bar (with many people opting for the night’s special tropical drink), we had time to walk through the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition as the butterflies were settling down for the night.

What did Steve LaWarre discuss?
Director of Horticulture, Steve LaWarre, gave us a private tour of the conservatory and pointed out several interesting plants. We all had the opportunity to try a seed from the cacao plant, and I learned that cacao tastes nothing like chocolate in its natural form. I had not realized what a process cacao beans go through to become cocoa and how lucky we are that early civilizations made the fortuitous discovery of chocolate! Following our tour of the conservatory, Steve directed us in planting our own Scarlet Runner Bean, which we were able to take home to enjoy.

Greg Secor of Pangea played the steel drums.

What was your favorite part of the evening?
I really enjoyed being able to go through the Butterflies exhibition with friends. Meijer Gardens was closed to the public at the time of our event, so it gave us an opportunity go through the conservatory without crowds of people around.

How can and why should people get involved in The Connection?
Personally, I enjoy being part of The Connection because it gives me a chance to meet other young professionals in the greater Grand Rapids area and to spend time with other members, who have become my friends. The events always include a delicious menu and a chance to learn something new—whether it is a behind the scenes tour of the Gardens, a sneak peak at ArtPrize and an opportunity to interact with the artists, or an informal lecture from the curator on a new exhibit. I am also looking forward to attending the Tuesday night concert series this summer with The Connection members.

If you are interested in learning more about The Connection, please come to our next event on Wednesday, June 20—we’ll be enjoying an Italian Bistro themed dinner and bocce ball on the lawn. People can find out more information about the next Connection event by e-mailing Katie Racey at or by contacting any of the Steering Committee members.