Center Manager/Environmental Affairs Coordinator
Tara Casella has been a primary force of leadership at the Center since her hire with the County in 2004. With the support of the County Administration and other Center team members, Tara was instrumental in the start-up of the Center and continues to manage its day to day operations, offering guidance and input on all aspects of the facility’s functioning. In addition to her responsibilities at the Environmental Center, Tara offers assistance and support to the Essex County Parks Department administration on a wide variety of projects, activities, issues and concerns. Tara serves on the Essex County Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Board and is the County’s liaison to the Essex County Environmental Commission. Having a degree in Human Ecology from Rutgers University, Tara is very passionate and proud to be working in this position and as a public servant in general, taking great pleasure as a County employee meeting/serving the needs of the public. Tara is passionate about issues related to health, the environment, community and ecology and believes in forging partnerships between all levels of society as a necessary means to achieve environmental sustainability.
Senior Naturalist/Program Coordinator
David facilitates field trips, camps, clubs, scout groups, home school classes, teacher workshops and special events. He coordinates conservation themed service projects that support the natural landscape and biodiversity within our park system. He has a Masters in Conservation Biology, Teaching Certificate and a Bachelors in Parks & Recreation Management. He is the author of Buzz into Action and Hop Into Action Curriculum Guides and was the 2023 NJ Parks & Rec Association Employee of the Year.
Heather graduated from New Jersey Institute of Technology with a BS in Science, Technology and Society. Her courses centered around technological impact on both the environment and society. Upon completing NJIT’s compelling course work she continued on to receive her Alternate Route Teaching Certificates in Kindergarten through fifth grade and also Middle School Math. Using her environmental studies background and her love for teaching she applied to teach outdoor education at Camp Ralph Mason in Hardwick New Jersey. It was there she really fell in love with teaching young people to be environmental people. After several years of joy and fulfillment at Camp Mason it was time to relocate to Essex County to be closer to family. As a mother of two and step-mother of one she promotes the ideas and ideals of outdoor education because she has seen firsthand the great impact a brush with nature can have in creating confidence and awe. She enjoys the benefits of learning outside a traditional classroom. She has a natural ability to incorporate art, science, math and history to make environmental learning fun.
“Every drop in the ocean counts.” –Yoko Ono
Maria is the Office Administrator for the Environmental Center, making sure the facility and the programs offered operate smoothly. She typically is the first person the public meets when they visit, leading informational tours, organizing registration, interacting with parents, vendors, partners and community groups, and performing various administrative functions. Maria, who has been at the ECEC since its opening, has a Certificate in Business Office Skills and an Associate’s Degree in Health Sciences.