Our Staff

North Jersey RC&D Staff Members:

Laura Tessieri – Associate Director

Laura Tessieri, PE, CFM is Director for the North Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D). She is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of mission and financial objectives. The North Jersey RC&D supports programs in areas of water resource protection, agricultural sustainability and community development.

Prior to RC&D, Laura worked with the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) as a Water Resource Engineer. Laura was highly involved with the Delaware River Basin Interstate Flood Mitigation Task Force that formed at the request of the four basin governors (NJ, NY, PA and DE). She implemented flood warning enhancements, reservoir modeling efforts and a floodplain regulation subcommittee though the DRBC Flood Advisory Committee. Her career also includes serving as the Assistant Municipal Engineer with Raritan Township, Hunterdon County and  working as a consulting environmental engineer.

Laura is a licensed professional engineer in the State of New Jersey and a Certified Floodplain Manager. She is a committee chair New Jersey Association for Floodplain Management (NJAFM). Laura holds a dual B.S. in Bioresource Engineering from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. In her free time, she enjoys her spending time outdoors with her husband and two young children.  They live in Hunterdon County, NJ in close proximity to the Delaware River, but up on a ridge located well outside of the floodplain.

Kara Hasko –
Agricultural Outreach Specialist

Kara kara.biopic3will be working closely with the agricultural community, especially farm owners and managers, to certify farms as River-Friendly Farms.  This program works with farmers to reduce resource concerns and losses and allows farms to market their products as having low or reduced impact on local watersheds.  As part of her role with RC&D, Kara is a partner of USDA-NRCS and will be writing conservation plans for farms in order to reduce erosion and other resource factors and improve overall farm management.

Kara holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior (public health and nutrition), with a minor in livestock production from the Cook College at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Kara also holds a M.S. in Biology (Ecology and Evolution) from Montclair State University. Kara also has experience in livestock judging and handling, as a life-long 4-H member. Kara works at a Nature Center as an Environmental Educator when she is not at RC&D.  In her free time, Kara enjoys riding horses, hiking, birding, and gardening with her husband.


Christian Bench – Agricultural Outreach Specialist
Christian Bench is an Ag Outreach Specialist with NJ RC&D. His specialty is production agriculture, protecting natural resources and promoting the soil health initiative. Prior to working for NJ RC&D he was employed with the USDA Farm Service Agency for 2 years and the USDA- NRCS for 8 years. Christian attended Delaware Valley College and Oregon State University. He and his wife operate a diverse farm in Stockton NJ where they focus on Hay, Straw, Sheep and Lamb production. Christian can be reached at the Frenchtown Service Center at 908-782-4614 ext.111


Kyle Richter
– Watershed Specialist

Hometown of Naples, FloridaDegree: B.S. Marine Science-Biological Oceanography, from Rutgers University

In his spare time Kyle enjoys a wide range of activities including hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, scuba diving, brewing beer, traveling, and spending time outside.



Nancy at 5 MaplesNancy Lawler – Water Quality Specialist

Nancy manages water quality monitoring projects and data for North Jersey RC&D. She also provides technical assistance and water quality assessment training to municipalities, stakeholders, and partner organizations.

  • B.A. Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA with additional training in Stream Ecology from the University of Michigan Biological Station

Nancy has worked in the water quality monitoring field and citizen science since 1999, and has presented on monitoring dam removals and other water quality data issues on the state and national level.She has a seat on the New Jersey Water Quality Monitoring Council and is an Environmental Commissioner for Lebanon Township in Hunterdon County.

Among her many interests, Nancy is an avid gardener and bird watcher.

striperNick Zemlachenko – Conservation Coordinator

Nick is the Conservation Coordinator with the North Jersey RC&D and assists the Associate Director in planning and market development components of projects, technical assistance, as well as participates in local landowner/municipal and area user outreach. Nick also composes articles and updates on our projects for the organization’s website and public outreach media, to further the presence of the organization throughout the New Jersey Highland region.

Nick graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resource Management and Policy, with a Minor in Business Administration, in 2013 from Paul Smith’s College, in the Adirondacks of New York State
Nick has experience in a wide range of environmental projects and related-roles, inclusive of: environmental planning, avian research, fish and wildlife handling and studies, private land easement conservation, and is a published writer. In his free time when he is not at the RC&D, Nick enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and is a life-long outdoorsman.

Brenda Berardo – Finance Manager