At the age of three, Steidinger moved with his family from Oklahoma to Donna where his father started a dairy business. As he grew older, he spent endless hours tending to cows. But at the age of 12, tragedy struck when his father was killed in a farming accident. He began farming to help support his mother. That’s when he fell in love with his new profession and that has lead to a lifetime of learning, leadership and success in horticulture. With borrowed money and leased land, Steidinger began growing cotton and grain, then vegetables and eventually citrus. In the early years he’d work his fields all day then go rough-neck in the oil fields to pay his farming bills and buy farmland. Steidinger quickly developed a reputation for having the finest crop of whatever he was growing. That came from hard work and always doing his homework, learning from other farmers and the research and extension service personnel here. He was never afraid to try something new and was always willing to sacrifice time, land, crops and efforts in collaborating with extension and research. Frugality and hard work eventually led to the purchase of several farms, including the JIMBAR Ranch in the Texas Hill Country, and a private plane to get a better view of his crops and those of his peers.
Throughout it all, Jimmie and his wife Barbara have been givers, always ready to help others. They’ve started a scholarship fund to help disadvantaged students attend Texas A&M-Kingsville University. He’s developed an extensive network in industry, business, academia and with political leaders, which has been invaluable to this area in general and horticulture in particular. An active member of countless boards and committees, Steidinger never failed to come through when it came to hosting prominent guests and dignitaries to the area. Whether it was touring Texas legislators through our area to impress upon them the importance of agriculture or taking a VIP on a fishing or wildlife excursion, Jimmie provided all the amenities, vehicles, ranches, connections, whatever it took.