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 SpecialistKara will 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 Programs Coordinator
Kyle works as Watershed Programs Coordinator for NJRC&D and the Musconetcong Watershed Association. Having a shared mission of protecting and improving water quality in northwestern New Jersey, these two organizations have partnered on projects and officially became affiliated in 2016. Kyle is a shared employee between the two organizations and works with municipalities, schools and communities to promote a sense of pride and stewardship for the Musconetcong watershed area as well as surrounding watersheds through education programs and restoration and green infrastructure projects.
Prior to joining NJRC&D and MWA, Kyle taught environmental education for 5 years at YMCA Camp Bernie and worked on developing STEM education curriculum at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. Kyle grew up in Southwest Florida and came to New Jersey to attend Rutgers University where he graduated with a B.S. in Marine Science. Kyle is furthering his education by attending Watershed Management courses through a certification program at Michigan State University. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, scuba diving and snowboarding.