Ben I. Copeland Sr. of Lanier County graduated from the University of Georgia in 1967 with a degree in landscape architecture and began working with the Tennessee Department of Conservation, where he became chief of design in the Planning Division. He returned to Georgia in 1971 to work for Patten Seed Company, becoming president in 1995.

Copeland is a former city councilman of Lakeland and a past chairman of the Board of Directors for Valdosta ,now Wiregrass ,Technical College. He was the recipient of the 2002 Volunteer of the Year award for Technical Colleges in the State of Georgia and Lanier County s Flatlander of the Year award. He currently serves on the Valdosta Lowndes County Hospital Authority , the Lanier County Development Authority , the South Georgia Regional Industrial Authority and Vice Chair of the State Workforce Development Board . Copeland is the past president of several organizations, including the Lanier County Lions Club, the Georgia Sod Producers Association and Turfgrass Producers International.

Mr. Copeland was appointed to the State Board in 2003 by Governor sonny Perdue.  He served as Chairman of the State Board from July 2005 to June 2007.