Anthony "Tony" Jensen learned the value of 4-H as a 4-H club member in the 1940s in Leon County during his high school years.
Following high school Jensen enrolled in University of Florida, but his education was disrupted when he was called to active duty service with the U.S. Army.
Following his discharge from the military, he completed a bachelor of science degree in forestry from the University of Georgia and then joined the Florida Forest Service in Jacksonville. During this time Jenson caught the attention of extension forester Louis Nieland who persuaded Jensen to join the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. He remained with extension throughout his professional career.
Jensen worked with educational forestry and 4-H youth programs. He managed is forestry and 4-H youth programs while working toward a master of science degree in forestry, which he completed in 1962. He excelled in both program areas but distinguished himself through his stellar 4-H leadership.
“Tony worked tirelessly to teach agents and 4-H volunteers about forest resources and how they could better serve 4-H youth,” said Wayne H. Smith, director of the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation. “He was a faithful and effective teacher at 4-H camps and his walks through the woods interpreting the landscape remain legion today.”
Through his dynamic personality and contagious leadership Jensen was able to attract many young people to the natural resources educational program who might not have considered it.
“Tony was a ‘Pied Piper’ with 4-H youth,” said Smith. “He organized and gave substance to natural resources programs for youth before these areas were ‘fashionable’. In fact, by 1976 his program had attracted 37,388 4-H members – the third highest of any program.” At the time, 16.6% of all youth involved in the 4-H program were enrolled in the forestry project.
Jensen also touched the lives of many 4-H agents and leaders.
“There is hardly a conversation I have with someone about forestry or the 4-H forestry contest that I don’t mention Mr. Jensen and all I’ve learned from him,” said Bob Renner, a former 4-H agent from Marion County. “He had the unique ability to talk and relate to the age or knowledge level of his audience. He was always available to agents in the county and was more than willing to share his experience.”
Jensen developed many forestry project books that were used for more than 40 years. He collaborated with national leaders to develop and expand his 4-H Forest Ecology project into a national program. He was on the organizing committee for the National Forest Ecology Contest when it began.
He was awarded the Extension Specialist Appreciation Award by the Florida Forestry Association. He received the C. Huxley Coulter Award for Outstanding Forester by the Florida Section Society of American Foresters and the Outstanding Service Award from the Florida Christrnas Tree Growers Association. He also was given the 25 Year Service to Conservation Camping Award by the Cooperative Extension Service, the Service to 4-H Award by St. Johns County Extension, Outstanding Alumnus by the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation. He was recognized as “Mr. Tree-Riffic," the highest award given by the Future Farmers of America.
Jensen was an active member of his Episcopal church, and served in various leadership positions in the Society of American Foresters. He passed away on November 20, 1985.