2015 Ben Black Elk Award

Presented to
John Brockelsby

Photo of Jim Hagen, John Brocklesby and Governor Daugaard
Secretary Jim Hagen and Governor Dennis Daugaard present
the 2015 Ben Black Elk Award to John Brockelsby of Rapid City

at the 2015 Governor's Conference on Tourism.

downloadable, hi-res version of this photo (300 dpi)

The Ben Black Elk Award commemorates Ben Black Elk, who personally greeted visitors at Mount Rushmore National Memorial for more than 27 years.

The 2015 Ben Black Elk Award recipient was John Brockelsby. “Johnny B” is a one-of-a-kind personality who has had a major impact on the tourism industry, not only with his own business but also by serving on numerous community and tourism association and advisory boards.

Johnny B has worked travel shows with the Department of Tourism for the last 15 years and has continuously served on the Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board since 2002.

In his nomination for this award, a colleague and board member commented that they met this gentleman at the 1996 Tourism Conference and they knew that his was a name and a personality to remember.

The board member went on to say that, “The only thing that has changed about this individual over the years is my appreciation for him. Every year, he finds a way to impress me more. He has a big heart for all; and a passion for South Dakota.”

That passion, coupled with his considerable PR skills, has benefitted both South Dakota and his family-owned attraction.

In May 2014, Reptile Gardens beat out zoos in Dallas, San Diego and Moscow for the title of World’s Largest Reptile Zoo as determined by the Guinness Book of World Records.