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Thomas H. Yorke

B.S. Forestry, 1964; M.S. Forestry, 1967

Thomas H. Yorke completed a baccalaureate degree in Forestry at Penn State in 1964 and a master’s degree in Forest Hydrology in 1967 under the advisement of Professor William E. Sopper. He was a member of the honorary fraternities Xi Sigma Pi (forestry) and Phi Epsilon Phi (botany) and social/professional fraternity Tau Phi Delta.  During his undergraduate years he worked on two landmark projects within the School of Forest Resources:  He compiled land use and stream channel data for the study, “Streamflow Characteristics of the Northeastern United States,” directed W. E. Sopper and H. W. Lull, and he helped install the irrigation system and monitoring instruments for the initial phase of Penn State’s Living Filter Project.

Upon graduation, Tom was hired by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as a hydrologist, and joined the College Park, MD, office conducting research on the effects of urbanization on streamflow and sediment transport (1965 - 1976).  He worked on an interagency assignment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Columbia, MO (1976 - 1978), and in 1978, he returned to the USGS, this time in Harrisburg, PA.  There he evaluated the distribution and transport of sediment, trace metals, and organic substances in river basins impacted by coal mining and extensive industrial development. 

Yorke was promoted to chief of the Susquehanna River Basin working group in 1981 and fostered cooperative research ties with Penn State faculty and recruited Penn State graduates to his agency.  In 1985, he became chief of the Tampa, Florida USGS office, and in 1990, chief of the National Water Information System, USGS, in Reston, VA, where he was responsible for the planning of the national USGS hydrologic data system and development of related software.  In 1995, Yorke became chief of the Office of Surface Water, USGS, in Reston and also served as U.S. representative in the development of international standards for surface-water and sediment-transport data.

Retiring from the USGS in 2001, he established Yorke Consulting Inc. to support regional, national and international organizations in water resources management issues.  He served as vice chair of Streamgaging Task Force of the Department of the Interior Advisory Committee on Water Information.  He supported Japan in the development of its hydrologic standards activities, and he consulted on an integrated system for hydrological surveillance, forecast, and alert in Romania. 

Yorke currently serves as the administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group on Hydrometry for the American National Standards Institute.  He also is a member of Technical Committee 113 on Hydrometry and chairman of the Subcommittee on Equipment, Instruments, and Data Management for the International Standards Organization.  He works with scientists in the UK, Switzerland, India, China, Korea, and Japan to develop standards for methods and equipment to measure rivers and ground water.

Yorke’s numerous awards include a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Unit Citation (1977), U. S. Geological Survey Outstanding Performance Awards (several years), U. S. Department of the Interior Superior Service (1992), and a U. S. Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award (1995).  He has been an American Institute of Hydrology Certified Professional Hydrologist since 1983, a member of the American Geophysical Union since 1967, and a member of the American Water Resources Association since 1971.

Yorke is a life member of Penn State Alumni Association (PSAA) and served as president of Tampa, Florida, chapter (1988-89).  He served on the School of Forest Resources Alumni Group Board of Directors ( 2005-08) and as president of the SFR Alumni Group (2006-07).  He co-chaired the School’s Centennial Planning Committee (2005-07).  Yorke is editor of The Taproot, Tau Phi Delta’s alumni newsletter (2004-current) and has organized several Tau Phi Delta reunions.  He serves on the board of directors of the College of Ag Sciences Alumni Society (2008-present) and is active in the Arlington-Fairfax Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America.

Tom and his wife Jeannie reside in Haymarket, Virginia.