A Baton Rouge man who leads crews cleaning the University and LSU lakes each week was named the state’s 2014 Cox Conserves Hero, an award that honors conservation activists around the state.

Parry “Matt” Thomas won the award Thursday and received a $10,000 grant he plans to donate to The University Lakes Improvement and Preservation Association.

For the past three years, Thomas and a handful of workers have fought invasive species in the lakes while cleaning and maintaining the shorelines and collecting trash.

So far, TULIPA has used all volunteer labor and has used tools and supplies donated by lakes-area homeowners. Earlier this month, Thomas told The Advocate the $10,000 would be a huge windfall for the organization.

“That basically will supply us with any tools we need, supplies, gas, oil,” said Thomas, a retired nuclear sales engineer.

Thomas was competing against two New Orleans-area conservationists affiliated with Parkway Partners and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. They each received $2,500.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program, created by The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, honors conservation leaders in six states.