If there’s a common theme to those who come to the Ontario’s Highlands region, it’s a desire to get closer to nature, and Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) Board Member and Secretary, Corina Mansfield’s story is no different.

After a decade spent working in the city of Toronto as a Law Clerk, Corina was ready for a change, and a chance to get back to where her heart has always been, the outdoors. She may have launched a career in Toronto, but her heart has always been in Ontario’s Highlands.

“I think that my formative years were spent in Haliburton Highlands…I loved the outdoors, I just feel like when you leave the city and drive up to the Highlands, there’s this point along the way that your shoulders start to go down and the stress leaves your body…I just love it.” said Corina.

Corina explained that growing up she always had this dream of owning an adventure company, but that back then it didn’t feel like a “real job,” there weren’t as many university or college programs she could take, and finding role models of women running adventure companies, or representing adventure sports, was challenging.

Corina made the move back to Ontario’s Highlands in 2018 with the goal of starting an adventure company. After working hard for many years to make the move to full-time entrepreneurship while raising two little girls, she finally launched Deep Roots Adventure in 2017.

“For me there are a lot of industries that we have here, but tourism is the heartbeat of the Highlands,” said Corina. “I love it when people leave a class and they are empowered and excited, they have this glow about them, that’s why I do this, I love seeing how people are in the outdoors, how they feel empowered, how they learn, how they let go of their comfort zone.”

Once Corina began working in the tourism realm, she saw more and more opportunities to connect and network with others in the industry. She took part in Ignite Haliburton, hosted by OHTO, and was excited at the collaboration she saw taking place there. She then joined the OHTO governance committee before deciding to take the plunge and join the OHTO board, a natural next step.

For Corina, being a director has been empowering, both professionally and personally.

“Getting to interact with other people and see their perspectives has really helped me to grow and given me an appreciation for the different tourism sectors,” Corina said. “I get a bit of a buzz from connecting with others who are so passionate about tourism and the community.

Her favourite part of being a board member is seeing the energy that the board brings to the table and the impacts that energy has on policy and the direction of tourism in the region.

She would recommend any tourism operator take the plunge and volunteer for the board, but does have some tips and suggestions, particularly when it comes to overcommitting.

Corina suggests being honest with yourself and how much you can give to the board, or any volunteer endeavour. She acknowledges that entrepreneurs are often the types of people who have big hearts and want to help a lot in the community, so end up volunteering a lot. These people in particular have to be careful to have a realistic view of time commitments.

“I have a mug that stays ‘Stop me before I volunteer again’ because I love to take on new projects,’” Corina laughed. “I think all entrepreneurs have to say ‘what’s my realistic opportunity to contribute’ and then put that energy where they can, without burning out.”

Joining the OHTO Board

OHTO is currently seeking new board members to join the team and make changes in the tourism world in Ontario’s Highlands. Anyone who is passionate about tourism and can dedicate a few hours each month, please consider submitting an application. For more information about how to apply and to read more about current board members’ thoughts on what being a board member means to them, please click here.