Barb Mason: World traveler, conservation expert and new Nature Trust Board member
02 Aug 2023
Barb Mason joined the Nature Trust’s Board this past March, but her love for the outdoors and exploring has been with her since she was a child. Growing up in Toronto, her family would spend time camping across parts of Canada and the United States, instilling in her a passion that would only grow with her.
“If you were to ask me what lights me up inside? It would be two things: travelling and hiking.”
Barb’s love for exploring has taken her to an astounding 36 countries and counting.
“It’s hard to pick a favourite, but my most recent trip was definitely a standout: hiking in Bhutan and Nepal in fall 2019. We haven’t been able to travel much since, after the pandemic and moving three provinces, so this trip feels extra sentimental. I also loved hiking throughout South America, and Japan as well,” says Barb. “As long as I can be walking the land, eating local food and learning about the culture, then I’d consider it a great day.”
After completing a journalism degree from Carleton University in Ottawa, Barb moved to Muskoka where she lived for nearly 30 years, working and raising a family. “When our children were growing up, we loved to spend time outdoors – walking, swimming, or camping when time allowed. We lived on a lake so time on the dock was a summer staple.”
In 2021, Barb and her husband moved to Nova Scotia – where their daughter also lives and a place they’ve always loved. This past April, Barb and her husband moved into their new home on Heckman’s Island in Lunenburg. She’s excited to discover more of the province, but some of her favourite hiking spots so far are Gaff Point Trail at Hirtle’s Beach and Cape Split near Canning. “There are so many trails in Nova Scotia, and they’re all so beautiful.”
Barb was seeking out a volunteer opportunity after moving to Nova Scotia when she came across the Nature Trust. She signed up for our monthly e-newsletter, Landlines, and eventually saw a call-out for new Board Members, so she reached out and we were delighted to have her join our Board this past March.
Barb brings nearly four decades of invaluable experience to her new role on our Board. When in Muskoka, she was a Director with the Muskoka Conservancy, a land trust with a similar mission and values as the Nature Trust. Although now in a new home province, she was still eager to help nature in some way and looked for a similar role here. “It’s all one planet after all!”
She’s also been involved with the Counselling Foundation of Canada, a career and skill development service foundation in Toronto that was started by her grandfather in the late 50s. She describes this as a lifelong work and love, as she was involved with it for nearly 40 years, only recently stepping down when she moved to Nova Scotia (as she hesitantly did with several boards, committees and other volunteer activities).
“I feel strongly about community service – we need to give back to our communities and areas that we live and reside in, and we must take care of our wilderness spaces,” urges Barb. “On so many levels it will see us through.”
Barb looks forward to her time ahead working with the Nature Trust to help protect nature and wildlife throughout Nova Scotia.
“It’s quite amazing how much the Provincial Government has shown an interest in conservation here and has committed to protecting wild spaces, and I look forward to as many collaborative opportunities as possible. It’s exciting seeing such a spotlight shown on conservation from the Province and I’m confident we’re poised to make great conservation strides here in the next 5-10 years,” says Barb. “On top of that, I’m excited to work with the Nature Trust team and to contribute to the amazing work already happening here, to join in on upcoming events like hikes, outings and community meetings, and of course – to explore more of the beautiful conservation lands throughout the province.”
Barb stays busy in her downtime as well. She loves yoga, and is a big reader and book collector – so much so that her husband counted nearly 40 BOXES of books when they were packing to move out East. She enjoys spending time with her three children (ages 43, 40 and 33) and her almost 1-year-old granddaughter, as well as her 12-week-old Havanese puppy, Gracie.