Distinguished Citizen's Dinner


Sep 23, 2021 6:00 pm



Rainwater Conference Center
1 Meeting Place
Valdosta, GA 31601



The Distinguished Citizen's Award is presented to individuals who provide outstanding civic service to the community.

Those who receive the award are not necessarily Boy Scout volunteers, but rather individuals who personify what the Boy Scouts stand for – good citizenship, outstanding moral fiber with a dedication to others, and for living their lives by the Scout Oath and Law.

This years Distinguished Citizen's Dinner will be a black tie affair!

Friends and associates of the honoree purchase corporate sponsorship packages and reserve tables at the event.  Individual tickets may be purchased for $150.


Ben Copeland Sr was born and grew up in Valdosta, Georgia. He graduated from Lowndes County High School in 1962 and attended ABAC and the University of Georgia, graduating in 1967 with a degree in Landscape Architecture. After graduation he began working for the Tennessee Department of Conservation where he became Chief of Design of the Planning Division. He returned to south Georgia in 1971 to work for Patten Seed Company in Lakeland becoming Company President in 1995.
Ben is a former member of the city council of Lakeland and the Lakeland-Lanier Recreation Authority. He served as chairman of the Board of Directors of Valdosta Technical College ( now Wiregrass Georgia Technical College) and The Wiregrass Foundation. He was the recipient of the 2002 Volunteer of the Year award for the Technical College System of Georgia. He was appointed to the state Board of TCSG by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2003 serving until his retirement in October 2020. Copeland was inducted into The Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2014.
Ben has served on the Boards of several organizations including the Georgia Sod Producers Association, Turfgrass Producers International and The Turner Center for The Arts.
He currently serves on the Valdosta Lowndes County Hospital Authority.
Ben has been an active promoter of Scouting, having served on the Alapaha Council, now the South Georgia Council for many years. He has been actively involved in upgrading facilities at Camp Patten.
Ben has been married to LaVonne for 55 years and they now live in Lake Park, Georgia.  They are the parents of two children Missy Johnson and Ben Copeland Jr, grandparents of nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.



Gary W. Black serves as the 16th Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia's history. Currently in his third term, Commissioner Black has served in various leadership positions during his 40-year career in Georgia agriculture extending from the Georgia Farm Bureau to the Georgia Agribusiness Council.
Black is a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and a past president of the college's alumni society. He currently serves on advisory committees for the United States Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and the Export Import Bank of the United States. Under his leadership, Georgia Department of Agriculture divisions for information technology, animal health, homeland security and food safety have garnered national acclaim.
A tireless marketing advocate, Commissioner Black has led innovation in domestic and international promotion through the renowned Georgia Grown branding program. School nutrition directors, first-time exporters, produce growers and recipe dreamers alike, have found that the Georgia Grown collaborative approach is an unparalleled tool that helps Georgians start businesses and expand markets.
Black is a Leadership Georgia Pattillo Award recipient and the 2017 Georgia Trend Magazine Georgian of the Year. He and his wife Lydia raise commercial beef cattle on their family farm in Commerce, Georgia. They serve together in various ministries at Maysville Baptist Church.

Past recipients of the South Georgia Council’s Distinguished Citizen's Award include:

1993       Ed Crane                             

1996       Dr. Loyce Turner                     

1998       Dr. Hugh Bailey                

2000       Parker Greene                 

2002       Hon. Mac McLane           

2004       Joe Cordova                      

2006       Bill Eager                            

2008       Dr. Ron Zaccari                 

2010       Jerry Jennett                     

2012       James McGahee              

2014       Col. Clarence Parker               

2016       Nell Roquemore              

2018       W. Tyson McLane

2019        Sherrif Ashley Paulk

Proceeds from the Distinguished Citizen's Dinner benefit local Scouting in South Georgia.