As a volunteer rural firefighter Daniel Gordon showed capacity for leadership and public service from an early age.
Now in a senior role with the NSW sheriff's office his work is taking him to wider fields and he's a country product on the up and up.
Sheriff's officer Daniel Gordon is tackling some of the biggest challenges the state's ever seen, and doing it with a firm appreciation for his bush upbringing.
The 30-year-old who grew up at Gilgandra has helped the justice department forge new ground to help in the response to the summer's bushfires and then the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not content to watch his former NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) colleagues stretched to the limit, in January he was a driving force behind the sheriff's office lending its support.
Then as COVID-19 led to a mandatory two-week quarantine for Australians returning from overseas, he commanded a taskforce assisting NSW Police with the safe and orderly departure of hotel guests.
His has been a rapid rise in the justice sector to his current role of acting chief superintendent of operational capability and performance.
It's not a path Mr Gordon predicted even five years ago, but he credits the experiences he had growing up in the country as "a big part" of his public service career moving from strength to strength.
Mum Susan is the aged care hostel manager at Gilgandra and a former army reservist, and stepdad Trevor is a retired paramedic.
Dad Ken is a former mayor of the town, and served a long period as a councillor.
"So I've come from a family of people who seem to be dedicated to service and I've always had that lesson in altruism from my parents," Mr Gordon said.
So I've come from a family of people who seem to be dedicated to service and I've always had that lesson in altruism from my parents.Sheriff's officer Daniel Gordon
As a teen he volunteered with the RFS and then became an employee, with positions at Cobar, Forbes and Coonamble.
In 2015 he took an opportunity to go to the United States as a divisional commander as fires raged on its western seaboard.
He recalled being in charge of National Guard crews who were deployed to assist with a week's worth of firefighting training.
Mr Gordon regards his time there as a "career-defining experience".
"I think the biggest thing taking away was the people I met, and the experiences of working with [them], even though we had come from completely different parts of the world and had never met before, there was just something, we all knew we were there to do a job and we all just sort of clicked, and got into the camaraderie," he said.
The move to the Office of the Sheriff of NSW, which ensures the safe operation of the state's courts, was no small decision.
I always thought I was going to be a lifer in the RFS, that I'd work there forever...Daniel Gordon
"I always thought I was going to be a lifer in the RFS, that I'd work there forever, ever since I was young, I'd always wanted to get into the emergency services and I'd always been drawn to the RFS," Mr Gordon said.
"And then an opportunity came up to come to the sheriff's office, and it's been amazing.
"I did a lot of umming and ahhing as to whether or not I do it, I took the leap, and it's the best decision I've ever made."
There was no way Mr Gordon was going to forget his former workmates this summer as they battled catastrophic blazes on multiple fronts.
"I had friends of mine who had been going for weeks upon weeks, breaking down in tears, talking to me about what was happening, and it was heartbreaking sitting back and feeling that I wasn't able to do anything," he said.
Mr Gordon approached NSW Sheriff Tracey Hall with his plan and she had "wholeheartedly agreed".
What eventuated was the deployment of more than 120 sheriff's officers, delivering more than 12,600 combined hours of assistance in logistical, communications and financial support, the acting chief superintendent reports.
"I guess the stars kind of aligned, in the sense that the period we assisted in, the January period, is normally when courts are shut down, so we had a lot of staff on leave and we had the capacity to be able to assist," Mr Gordon said.
The experience reinforced to the plan's founder "the sense of community".
"It's very easy to get wrapped up in a world... where we hear about entitlement and we hear about it's all me, me, me," Mr Gordon said.
"But the one thing I've seen is... especially the people I work with, in the sheriff's office and in the community that we all come together when it really counts.
"We had staff cancelling their leave and their plans and everything to be able to come back, because they wanted to help."
Mr Gordon was also volunteering with the RFS during the crisis.
'TAKE THE LEAP'
Mr Gordon's advice for young people from his home region is to have mobility, and be prepared to "broaden your horizons and jump out of the box".
"So a perfect example is I had always said I would never move to Sydney, I hated it, it's a big concrete jungle," he said.
"Or I'd never move to certain places, and we always seem to gravitate into certain areas where we're born and where our family is and everything like that, and that's great, if you want to do that.
...you can gain so much experience and so much opportunity by being prepared to take the leap, jump out of your comfort zone, and move.Daniel Gordon
"But certainly you can gain so much experience and so much opportunity by being prepared to take the leap, jump out of your comfort zone, and move.
"So I moved to Sydney last year... and now that I'm here, there's so many other things you can do.
"But I still bring that country feel with me."