Steckline scholarship established to help students in agriculture

By Randy Gonzales
Special to the Hays Daily News

Larry Steckline wanted to give back.

Steckline and his wife Carla, along with the Trego Community Foundation for Educational Excellence, have established The Larry Steckline Agricultural Appreciation Endowed Scholarship.

The $100,000 scholarship, starting in fall 2022, will be awarded to a graduate of Trego Community High School in WaKeeney. Eligible students must have a 3.0 grade-point average, show financial need, and have an agricultural background or who intend to pursue an agricultural-related education at a four-year institution, community college or technical school, inside or outside the state.  The intention is for each year’s recipient to be awarded $1,000 for a maximum of four years.

Larry Steckline, the voice of Kansas agriculture on radio and television for more than 50 years, has established a college scholarship for WaKeeney-Trego Community High School seniors.

“For several years I’ve been scratching my head on how to help somebody in agriculture, because agriculture is what made me,” Steckline said. “We tossed around all kinds of ideas over the years.”

Steckline, who grew up on a 200-acre family farm outside Ogallah, was a 1959 Trego graduate. He said his mother wanted him to go to college, but the family could not afford it. However, one day a recruiter from Wichita Business College showed up on the farm and offered the family a college opportunity. If Steckline completed the two-year course in accounting and administration, the college would find him a job to pay back the tuition.

Larry Steckline, the voice of Kansas agriculture on radio and television for more than 50 years, has established a college scholarship for WaKeeney-Trego Community High School seniors.

Steckline packed his bags for Wichita to live with his aunt and uncle, paying them $25 a month for room and board. He worked as a bookkeeper at the Wichita Union Stockyards to help pay tuition and expenses. Upon graduation Steckline was hired full-time by the stockyard.

“That’s where I stayed for 15 years and built myself up to the public relations director there,” Steckline said. “I had a work ethic that blew everybody’s mind at the stockyards. The people I worked for were so appreciative that they kept moving me up the line.”

In 1964, Steckline started making appearances on Wichita television station KWCH during the noon show to give market reports. A few years later, Steckline became farm director and sales manager for KFRM radio. Upon leaving that station, Steckline started the Mid-America Ag Network, building and buying his own radio stations.

Steckline said the first station he purchased was KJLS, an FM station in Hays. He said not many cars had FM radio then, but a local car dealer helped out by deciding all future cars for sale at the dealership would have FM radio on the dial.

“I started farm and home shows in Hays, and all of them were a big success,” Steckline said. “I had good sponsorships with all of my programs.

“That area I came from backed me right off the bat,” he added. “I still appreciate that.”

Steckline went on to own 27 stations for his ag network. Today, at 80, he and his wife live on a farm outside Garden Plain, but he still appears twice a week on KAKE-TV out of Wichita.

Steckline, who credited his wife with the idea for the scholarship, said he wanted to show his appreciation.

“Those people were very, very good to me,” he said.

Go to larrysteckline.com for more information on the scholarship and for an application.