Cultivating Community, One Landscape at a Time

Jason Lee, owner and founder of SkyFrog Landscape.

“I started with myself, a truck, and a trailer.” Jason Lee’s business may have had humble beginnings, but its foundation can be traced back to family traditions and experiences he had through 4-H.

From a young age, Lee, SkyFrog Landscape’s owner and visionary, helped maintain his family’s acre of ferns. When he got older, he joined his local 4-H club. His experience growing his own ornamental and flowering plants in 4-H cultivated a passion for plants and gave Lee a taste of entrepreneurship, leading him down a career path to be his own boss.

Lee attended the University of Florida, earning his bachelor’s degree in landscape and nursery horticulture — now part of the plant science major — through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). After graduation, Lee started working for a large landscape company, but he always knew he wanted to work for himself.

With his truck and trailer, Lee reached out to Joseph Vasquez, founder of SkyFrog Tree Service, with hopes to create a landscaping service under the SkyFrog name. Lee had met Vasquez during his undergraduate career, when Vasquez was a greenhouse manager at UF.

As a new entrepreneur, however, Lee knew he had a steep learning curve.

“There were a lot of mistakes I’ve made through the years that we’re now trying to overcome,” said Lee. “I’ve learned from every mistake I’ve made, but I’ve had some expensive teachable moments.”

These teachable moments have allowed Lee to grow SkyFrog Landscape during the past 14 years. Under Lee’s leadership, SkyFrog Landscape was recognized on the Gator100, a list of the top 100 fastest growing Gator-owned or Gator-led companies. Now, with more than 40 employees and 10 crews, the company performs irrigation, maintenance, fertilizer and chemical services for Alachua County residents.

“Many CALS graduates have a plan to one day be their own boss,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “Jason has not only achieved this, but he has been able to do so while sticking to his core value of service, one of the values Jason, SkyFrog Landscape and our college share.”

Lee learned about service through his involvement in 4-H, which made service fun. One of the projects that stood out to Lee was hosted at the Silver Springs State Park.

“We’d go out in the woods and pick up trash and tires and other litter. They would measure everyone’s trash at the end sort of making it a competition,” said Lee.

Lee, along with other crew members, working on a service project on campus.

Service projects in 4-H have translated into a foundational value for his company, serving as a pillar for the actions of Lee and his employees. From ensuring clients receive custom and quality experiences to working with a variety of organizations in the Gainesville area, SkyFrog strives to serve its community.

One benefit SkyFrog provided was to Superheroes for Hope, a charity organization that gives children the opportunity to meet superheroes before beginning hospice and long-term medical treatments. James Coats, president of Superheroes for Hope, stated Lee and SkyFrog’s contributions to the families served by the organization have been invaluable.

“SkyFrog has helped many people maintain their homes during these very trying times. I can’t thank them enough for their selfless acts and extreme kindness,” said Coats.

SkyFrog has also donated services to other organizations in need. Last year, the team volunteered for the City of Alachua’s beautification day. Several SkyFrog crew members helped the community plant new trees around City Hall and update landscaping in road medians. Lee has plans to engage with other charities like Smiles for Miles and youth development groups like the Boys and Girls Club.

Lee has been selected as a 2024 University of Florida Alumni Association’s (UFAA) “40 Gators Under 40” for his outstanding accomplishments in the ornamental horticulture industry and philanthropy.


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Posted: March 27, 2024

Category: 4-H & Youth, UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: 40 Under 40, CALS Alumni, Community Service, Plant Science

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