Official Wagga Australia Day celebrations will kick off on Monday evening with recognition of some of the city's most dedicated workers and volunteers.
Eleven residents have been chosen across three categories as the nominees for this year's Australia Day Awards.
The awards include the naming of the Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year, along with a relatively new category.
Wagga council community service director Janice Summerhayes said the new category of Environmental Citizen of the Year had drawn increased interest for the 2021 event.
"We launched this category for the 2020 Australia Day Awards and now, in just its second year, we have received five nominations," she said.
"Through their professions or volunteer activities, these nominees have worked tirelessly to improve environmental sustainability and awareness.
She said the council received three nominations for both Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year, with the winners of all three categories to be announced at a ceremony on Monday night.
The ceremony will also see the announcement of the the 2021 Walk of Honour Inductee..
"It is wonderful to see so many outstanding citizens being recognised," Ms Summerhayes said.
The awards ceremony, this year a private event due to coronavirus restrictions, will be held at the Civic Theatre tonight from 7pm, with a livestream at www.wagga.nsw.gov.au/australiaday.
Citizen of the Year Nominees
When Ms Crain got the phone call that she had been nominated, she felt honoured and surprised. But, in her mind, this recognition is not just about her.
"I think personally this highlights and acknowledges the multicultural space which is really important," she said.
"I don't think it is just about me. I think people are starting to see the contributions of people from all different backgrounds to helping Wagga grow."
Growing up in Wagga, Ms Crain said the community was not very diverse, but she has learnt so much after dedicating many years to the Multicultural Council.
"I feel very privileged to be a part of people's lives as they settle here," she said.
"We become almost like a family. Having this one place for so many different cohorts really helps create a sense of belonging."
Ms Crain has been nominated for her outstanding contribution to multiculturalism in Wagga.
She helped the Multicultural Council grow into and organisation that supports multiple and diverse communities and is instrumental in fostering humanitarian groups to gain education qualifications and skill sets that lead to employment.
John Fardell said he had no idea he would be nominated for Citizen of the Year.
"I got the shock of my life," he said.
"I didn't think I would get it, but I got it and it makes me happy."
For 13 years, Mr Fardell has been making coffee tables in the shape of Australia and NSW, along with plant stands and other creations he raffles off to raise funds for the Mary Potter Nursing Home.
Mr Fardell said he got to know the nursing home when his wife Pat's mother was there for respite, and decided to help them because he felt they needed more financial support.
Since beginning his efforts, he has raised thousands of dollars for the home to help purchase additional equipment.
"It keeps me going," he said.
His efforts are not limited to the one place however, with drought, breast cancer and bushfire relief organisations all benefitting from his handiwork.
"I was brought up on a farm and that's what I felt like doing for the farmers," he said.
Soon to be 79, Mr Fardell has plans in the works for a fundraiser for Batlow after previously donating to Tumbarumba.
"I'll just keep going for a while and then I'll probably retire," he said.
He said the support of his wife had been important when managing all the raffles through the years.
Ms Ferguson was overwhelmed when she found out that someone had taken the time to nominate her.
"I was so surprised because when you do things, you don't do them for recognition," she said.
"I felt very warmed by the fact that people had taken the time to nominate me. It makes you feel honoured to know that other people think that way about me."
Ms Ferguson managed to navigate both the Murrumbidgee Magic and the Wagga City Rugby Male Choir through the tumultuous year that was 2020.
Singing together over Zoom, and keeping spirits up was part and parcel of the new way of life.
"At some points, it was really challenging," Ms Ferguson said.
"At least we were able to provide a platform for them to see each other's faces, have a chat and then onto the work of singing."
Ms Ferguson first got involved with choirs when she started working at a primary school.
"Just seeing the joy of children being given the opportunity to stand up together and sing and how much music meant to them was so special," she said.
"That passion has just continued and continued to get even stronger.
"Music, and particularly, singing just brings so much to people."
Ms Ferguson has made an enormous contribution to the Wagga music scene over several years.
She has taken on key roles across multiple groups with the most recent being the Musical Director of the Wagga City Rugby Male Choir. Through her dedication, expertise and enthusiasm, the choir now has grown to 70 members.
Young Citizen of the Year Nominees
Angus has been nominated in recognition of his work in raising vital funds for the Dunns Road Bushfire appeal. At just 17 years of age, Angus co-ordinated Music for the Mountains, an event held in late January 2020 which saw 30 artists and a plethora of local talent perform which resulted in raising $32,000.
Ariba is an active volunteer for Cancer Council Australia. Since the age of four she has volunteered to sell raffle tickets and merchandise for Daffodil Day, Red Nose Day and Pink Ribbon Day. In 2020, Ariba even donated her hair to the 'Variety-Hair with Heat' charity.
Clare Frances Lawlor
Clare has been described as an incredibly community minded young woman, with a long list of service, academic and community volunteer achievements. At the age of 18, Clare founded the Rotaract Club of CSU Wagga which is a global organisation that empowers students and young professionals to create positive and lasting change in themselves, their local community and around the world.
Environment Citizen of the Year Nominees
Ms Crago is a dedicated volunteer for the Wagga community. Since 2005, she and her husband Richard have spent endless hours improving the natural environment on Rocky Hill as a tireless advocate for woody weed removal of noxious weeds.
Mr Maher has a long history, deep knowledge and commitment to environmental sustainability. He has been an active member of the Wagga Urban Landcare Group since 2011 and president since 2013. During that time, he has continued to establish partnerships with local businesses and organisations to educate above revegetation, weed control and social engagement.
Ms Murray is an active member at Erin Earth, a sustainable living centre and a volunteer in the garden maintenance program. She has been a volunteer member at the Wagga Urban Landcare Group for the last 20 years and was the driving force behind the climate change march in back in March 2019. Ms Murray's professional role allows her to work in the area of floodplain management which comes off the back of her PhD in riparian zones of rivers which she attained at Charles Sturt University.
Mrs Kurylowicz's passion for the planet has driven her to create a micro flower farm and studio florist offering blooms grown locally. In the past year, she has set the goal of making her business 100 per cent flower foam free, which for a florist is a unique and challenging task. Mrs Kurylowicz has pioneered new methods to give structure and hydration for flowers and has provided floral installations that are 100 per cent free of flower foam to all her clients.
Mr Kanck has been a volunteer committee member of the Demonstration Gardens Wagga for the past three years. In his current position of president, he works closely with a group of volunteers to plan and manage a range of programs and events which promote the growth of fruit and vegetables using environmentally sustainable methods.