Edd and Annie Hodges raised their family in the Midwest, Arkansas and Missouri, before moving to McCleary in 1947 to manage a small 10-acre farm. Edd taught his son James to hunt and pick blackberries on their property. The Hodges encouraged their children to be hardworking, self-sufficient citizens and to not be afraid to take risks. It was this spirit that inspired their son James to try his hand at both business and education endeavors. Preference for this award is given to candidates from the Elma and McCleary area graduating from Elma High School.