As early as 1918 we find evidence of activity with youth in corn, beef, and pig project work. Most of the club work prior to 1924 was carried out on an individual basis rather than through organized 4-H clubs.
In 1924, a baby beef club was organized through the efforts of E.B. Thomas, C. A. Pardee, William Esbeck and W. D. Sampson. The same year O.C. Colee and J. W. Kersin, Harry Nailor and Ward Hoyt were involved in organizing sheep clubs.
Girl’s 4-H club work was started in 1924 with the organization of four clothing clubs. Mrs. O. C. Colee was the first chairman.
Membership in the Agriculture and Home Economics clubs increased through the years. In the 1920’s the total enrollment was from 100 to 200 members. In the 1930’s it increased to 200. During the 1940’s local 4-H clubs organized for both Agriculture and Home Economics in all parts of the county. During the 1940’s the membership grew toward 400. In recent years the total has been between 425 and 475 boys and girls in 4-H club work in Audubon County.
The recent trends in 4-H have been to provide a broader program of projects and activities to the members. In addition to the beef, dairy, swine, sewing, cooking, etc. members have been involved in citizenship, electrical, health, safety, photography, gardening, small engines, and others.
Over the years the trend has been to develop a joint boys and girls program. Local clubs continue to be organized by Agriculture and Home Economics clubs. County activities are quite largely set up on a joint basis including such events as annual meeting (Roundup), Awards Night, County Camp, Mardi Gras Party, Officer Training School, and Others.
The County Fair has provided a highlight for 4-H club members over the years. Audubon County 4-H club members have had outstanding exhibits in livestock and in Home Economic exhibits year after year. Fairground facilities have been developed and improved for both boys and girls exhibits in recent years through monetary contributions and donated labor by 4-H families and friends of 4-H.
Some of the 4-H members in Audubon County have won high recognition. At least 8 members have won national 4-H Club Congress trips. They include Dale Henricksen in 1947, Betty Nelsen in 1949, Dale Nelsen in 1954, Catherine Olson and Willie Simmons in 1955 and Glen Nelson in 1956, Patricia Barnett in 1960 and Dave Esbeck in 1964 and Marcia Rattenberg in 1967. In 1953 Shirley Johnson won a trip to National 40H Conference in Washington, D. C. Winners to Camp Miniwanca at Shelly, Michigan include Robert D. Hansen in 1950 and Dave Esbeck in 1965. State Officer Candidates include Doris Nelson in 1935, Dale Henricksen in 1946, Jane Bauer in 1961 and Dave Esbeck in 1964 and Marica Rattenberg in 1967. Of these candidates Dave Esbeck and Marica Rattenberg were elected to the office of State Historian and Secretary.
The 4-H Club program is being carried out through the active work of 4-H leaders. Sixty or more adults work with the local clubs as organization leaders, project leaders and subject matter leaders in carrying out work in organized clubs throughout the County.