When Iva Quarisa received news that she had been nominated for a Medal of the Order of Australia, she couldn't quite believe it.
And then a letter arrived confirming that she would be awarded an OAM in the Queen's Birthday honours this year.
Ms Quarisa has been recognised for services to primary industry, particularly irrigation management.
"I was quite astounded, I'm very touched. But I couldn't quite believe it," Ms Quarisa said.
Ms Quarisa is the executive officer of the Irrigation Research and Extension Committee, an organisation which helps guide research into irrigated agriculture.
Irrigated agriculture has long been a passion for Ms Quarisa who grew up on a rice, wheat and sheep farm near Griffith.
"I've always wanted to help people and I wanted to work for the DPI - it was the Department of NSW Agriculture then," she said.
She first landed a job working an inspector in 1992, examining agricultural exports and helping control Queensland fruit fly, but it wasn't long before she became an irrigation officer, working with broadacre and horticultural farmers.
"I was helping farmers better manage their irrigation systems, water and soil resources," she said.
"It was all about extension, helping farmers adopt new practices, new technology and implementing it on their farm.
"It's a semi-arid environment, for me irrigated agriculture is the key to feeding the world's growing population."
Ms Quarisa said there was a huge step forward in agricultural production when farmers began using herbicide and fertilisers and wasn't sure where the next big improvement to production would come from.
"I think irrigated agriculture can fill in the gap," she said.
Around five per cent of Australian tilled farmland was irrigated but it produced 30 per cent of agricultural production, from vegetables, to rice, wheat, fruits and nuts.
It's a semi-arid environment, for me irrigated agriculture is the key to feeding the world's growing populationIva Quarisa OAM
Ms Quarisa's career with the DPI came to an end in 2013 when the DPI made many of its staff including agronomists and extension officers redundant.
Not wanting to leave the area, she secured a role at IREC and was able to continue working with irrigation farmers.
"At IREC it all starts from scratch, we ask our members and other irrigators where the gaps are and then we collaborate and facilitate the research to happen, working with research organisations like Deakin University, Charles Sturt University or the DPI," she said.
"We look at cross-commodity research, like irrigation layouts, automation or weed control and resistance, things that apply to more than one industry.
"We fill gaps that specific industry research doesn't cover."
One of the big changes IREC is demonstrating is new layouts for beds in a bankless channel, which means you can grow rice and then switch to another crop.
"The bankless channel means irrigators have more flexibility when it comes to choosing crops," she said.
As well as working as IREC's executive officer, Ms Quarisa is the CEO of Murrumbidgee Private Irrigators - farmers who draw their water directly from the river and public officer for Murrumbidgee Groundwater - Murrumbidgee Valley farmers who draw water from bores.
She's also a director of the Yenda Producers Co-Operative.
In her spare time, Ms Quarisa has been working with Uganda Christian Outreach in helping to support the Seeta School.
"A friend started a medical mission there and I went to visit," she said.
The Seeta School is located in an isolated part of Uganda - the upcountry, the road to get there is like "motorbike trail".
As there was no running water, if people wanted fresh water, they would have to walk two kilometres to a stream, which became a muddy puddle in the dry season.
A pasta night fundraiser in St Albans Hall helped raise $5000 to build a well. That well was dug by hand before water was found around 45 metres below the surface.
While the hand-pumped well takes 11 pumps before arrives, it means there's now clean, fresh water all year round.
More recent additions include teacher's accommodation so that teacher's don't have to walk up to three kilometres to school to reach.
"The next thing is to build a new classroom. Students are learning in a wooden shack with dirt floors," Ms Quarisa said.
"It's not weather-proof which makes teaching much harder."
And true to form, Ms Quarisa wants to help the introduce irrigation to the village so the yield on the maize crops can be increased and excess food can be sold to help generate an income.
Receiving an OAM is something Ms Quarisa "never dreamed of".
"Doing all this work is not for the recognition, but when you do get the recognition it's lovely," she said.
"I've been thinking 'why me', I look around and see a few people who could be more deserving of the recognition, there are a lot of quiet achievers in this community."