Success Story: Renfrew County ATV Club uses skills development funding to keep the organization thriving 

The Renfrew County ATV Club (RCATV) has made a commitment to supporting continuing education and skills development for its volunteers, and the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) Tourism Recovery and Innovation Program – Skills Development stream is helping them to do that.  

With 1000-kilometres of trails and 400-kilometres of connecting roads to manage for its members, the RCATV considers it a priority to ensure volunteers have the skills they need to keep the organization growing.  

Treasurer Karen Mason is one volunteer who has been able to upgrade her skills as a result of the Skills Development funding, and is now up to speed on the mysteries of Quickbooks that will help when monitoring the books for the organization. Karen took an online Quickbooks course from a company offering eight hours of virtual instruction.  

“I’m now able to do payroll, I’ve learned how to track grants we received, manage how the money is coming in, and how to give financial statements,” Karen said. “Now I’m 100 per cent able to provide what the club is looking for, in detail.” 

Karen volunteered as treasurer knowing she would have some catching up to. As a former accountant more than 20 years ago, she acknowledged the accounting world has changed a little bit since she was last involved with it, and she had to learn how to manage transactions digitally.  

“It definitely upgraded my skills from paper to computer,” Karen said. “This training helps our club, and we are a not-for-profit so we scrimp and save like everyone else.” 

In total between four and five volunteers were able to take advantage of the opportunity to build their skills and support the RCATV club.  

Accessing the Skills Development funding meant the RCATV club did not need to foot the bill to ensure its volunteers had the skills they needed and that would help serve the organization. With COVID-19 still having an impact on operations, these types of opportunities are more important now than ever. 

“Everybody’s under stress with COVID-19, so we’ve really scoured the internet looking for grants we could qualify for, and as a not-for-profit we try to get the best bang for our buck,” said Karen.  

“Now we have more money left for doing what we do, which is keep our ATV trails in Renfrew County up and running.” 

About OHTO’s Tourism Recovery & Innovation Program – Skills Development Stream

The TRIP-Skills Development stream is designed for projects that directly support tourism businesses and their employees to enhance their knowledge and skills in tourism and business development. This program provides up to $2,500 per applicant to support workforce and skills training projects that are to be completed by March 31, 2022. To apply to one of the TRIP funding streams, please visit comewander.ca/trip.

About FedDev Ontario

For more than 12 years, FedDev Ontario has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the Agency’s impact in southern Ontario by exploring Southern Ontario Spotlightpivotal projectsTwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

More Success Stories

Get to Know: Ben Hemmings, Ben Hemmings Media  

Filmmaker Ben Hemmings of Ben Hemmings Media is more artist than mere videographer, sculpting stories that connect audiences with a particular message and subject matter. As of late, much of his subject matter has been focused on Ontario’s Highlands, and the results of his creativity have helped to connect audiences with the stories of Ontario’s Highlands’ topography, communities, and the people who live, work, and love here.  

For Ben, marketing through storytelling is more than just making a video that tries to “sell” someone something, it’s about creating the connections that inspire decision making. 

“I think people are past the hard sell, they don’t want to be sold things anymore,” Ben explained. “They want to connect with the business owners, to hear about personal stories and struggles and how they’re dealing with them. To hear real, organic stories that resonate with their experiences.” 

Originally from Liverpool in the United Kingdom, Ben is self-taught in videography and photography, and as with all great filmmakers, his creativity is at the core of his success in visual storytelling. 

“When I was a kid I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, I loved David Attenborough’s films,” Ben explained. “When I finished law school I bought a camera and started teaching myself at every opportunity…I photographed everything while walking around London.” 

For Ben, being able to work in tourism means working in an industry he is passionate about. As someone who has traveled around the world, Ben explains he has seen tourism done right, but has also seen it done wrong. 

“I have been a tourist around the world, I know what bad tourism looks like, I know what good tourism looks like…good tourism can be one of the main tools for economic growth, environmental conservation and political stability. 

It was while working with Destination Ontario in 2018 that Ben was introduced to Julie Mulligan, OHTO’s Marketing Director, and it wasn’t long before he was working on bigger projects with OHTO, most significantly the recent Our Connections campaign.  

Our Connections launched in July 2021 and was an eight-month campaign highlighting the stories of seven of Ontario’s Highlands’ tourism leaders. Thanks to Ben’s skill in storytelling these stories helped audiences get to know the faces behind the names of tourism offerings and experiences across the region.  

“The goal was to tell personal stories from the region, going deep into some of the locals who make the region such a special place,” explained Ben. “We found some really amazing people who jumped on board, trusted us with their stories, and welcomed us into their worlds. For me, that was the most rewarding part of producing this series.” 

The Connections series theme in general is right up Ben’s alley; as someone who is a relative newcomer to Canada, he especially values the connections he’s making in the region where he lives and works.  

“When I first got into filmmaking I didn’t know the thing I would value most would be getting to know people,” Ben said. “It’s such an immediate and deep connection with the subjects of a film…you’re asking them to be open and trusting with their story and to welcome you into their mind and into their world.”