Monke Resume and Portfolio


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Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, Minn. Aug. 2002 to May 2006

Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in print and broadcast journalism. Placed on Dean’s List six of eight semesters. Sports editor of student newspaper, The Advocate


Director of Marketing and Information Division North Dakota Department of Agriculture, November 2016 to Present

  • Manage day-to-day business for the department’s Marketing and Information Division, including a staff of 10 employees, while reporting directly to the Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and the North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, an elected official.
  • Administer a budget of more than $9 million that consists of state general funds and special funds, as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funding, in a division that manages multiple department, state and federal programs.
  • Meet weekly with both the Agriculture Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner to discuss items of importance for the state of North Dakota’s agriculture industry and best practices for administering Marketing and Information Division programs.
  • Advised the Agriculture Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Administrative Services Division and the department’s policy team on legislation that affected the Marketing and Information Division as well as other divisions. This function also included proofreading department testimony and proposed changes to legislation.
  • Oversee the department’s information technology (IT) functions, including procurement and maintenance of equipment. Supervise the department’s IT specialist and Geographic Information Systems specialist. Together with those two employees, assist a department staff of more than 75 full-time employees with daily IT issues and work closely with the state’s Information Technology Department to correct IT issues experienced by department staff.
  • Serving as the project lead for the department’s complete website redesign, a $75,000 project that includes working with an vendor to consolidate four separate websites into one in less than five months.
  • Supervise the department’s public information office, which produces press releases and multiple publications and multimedia for the news media and the general public. The office also maintains the department’s website and social media accounts.
  • Supervise the Pride of Dakota program, which assists more than 500 member companies – including food and beverage companies, manufacturers, publishers, artisans, gift manufacturers and service providers – in marketing their products to North Dakotans through trade shows and multiple yearly events.
  • Supervise the administration of funds for the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant and Organic Cost Share programs, as well as other grant and mini-grant programs funded either federally or by the State of North Dakota.
  • Supervise the Agriculture in the Classroom program specialist, livestock development marketing specialist and international trade marketing specialist, and assisted each with issues of importance to their programs.
  • Supervise the department’s lead administrative assistant and oversee the handling of multiple everyday office functions.
  • Earned State of North Dakota Level 2 Procurement certification, allowing me to purchase up to $25,000 in services, items and equipment for the department from state-approved vendors. Also earned Defensive Driving and State Fleet certification.


Managing editor, The Dickinson (N.D.) Press, March 2013 to November 2016

  • Manage the daily operations of the newsroom for a 7,000 circulation newspaper published six days a week. Assign duties of eight full-time and two part-time employees, as well as freelancers. Set daily, weekly and long-range news budgets, assign stories, budget and design pages, and produce special sections.
  • Write features, editorials, columns and breaking news for print and online, while taking photographs.
  • Work closely with publisher and other managers to determine best course of action for newspaper.
  • In October 2014, assumed the editor role for The Drill, a free monthly magazine distributed to 50,000 households in western North Dakota’s Oil Patch after previously working in a supervisory role.
  • Made online readership a priority in order to reach the area’s growing and transient population, as well as the growing web and mobile markets. Created a multimedia editor position to grow new media ideas and improve online presentation strategy. Increased online readership from 700,000 monthly page views in March 2013 to more than 1.2 million by March 2015.
  • Led the staff that won the 2014 and 2015 Inland Daily Press Association’s Community Leadership Award for its coverage of the Dickinson State University Foundation financial scandal and subsequent receivership. Contributed two stories, and assigned and edited three others for a series on the North Dakota oil bust that won the 2015 Inland first-place award for Investigative Reporting.
  • Editor of staff that has won 2014 and 2015 North Dakota Newspaper Association Sweepstakes and General Excellence.
  • Host a weekly half-hour TV talk show, “Insight: This Week in Southwest North Dakota” produced by local cable TV station in a partnership with The Press.
  • Portfolio and archived stories  Photography

Sports editor, The Dickinson (N.D.) Press, July 2006 to March 2013

  • Led day-to-day editorial decisions of a two-person sports department and supervised an ever-changing stable of part-time clerks and stringers. Edited, budgeted and managed a sports section of two to five pages published six days a week. Worked closely with the newspaper’s managing editor and publisher.
  • Spearheaded the launch of the newspaper’s first separate sports section in 2007. Expanded the coverage of every beat, which included adding rodeo and local auto racing coverage, as well as rethinking how all sports were covered by assigning and writing regular features, columns and notebooks. Paginated pages nightly while covering and taking photographs at athletic events.
  • Won 30 awards, including 16 first place, in the North Dakota Newspaper Association contest. Won seven consecutive firstplace awards in the Sports Feature category and four straight best sports section awards.
  • Played substantial role in newspaper winning 2013 NDNA General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards by sweeping firstplace awards in all sports-related categories.

Part-time sports reporter and clerk, and intern sports reporter The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, August 2003 to April 2006

  • Wrote sports features, game stories, breaking news and spot news as both an intern and a part-time reporter. Interviewed several notable sports and society figures. As a sports clerk, spent up to 30 hours a week on the desk typing box scores, answering telephones, building scoreboards and designing pages.
  • Was the newspaper’s full-time sports reporter intern during the summer of 2005.

Sports editor and sports reporter The Advocate (Minnesota State University Moorhead), August 2002 to May 2005

  • Worked 10 to 20 hours a week as a sports reporter from August 2002 to May 2004, before being hired as sports editor from August 2004 to May 2005.  
  • Covered all MSU Moorhead athletic teams and some extracurricular activities and managed a staff of four reporters.




Note: This page is under construction as I gradually add more of my archived articles.

Best of the Best

News Features

A long night rememberedThere are literally hundreds of stories and different accounts of the night an EF-3 tornado struck the south side of Dickinson on July 8, 2009. Five years later, we take a look at three families — two of them next-door neighbors — and what they went through that day and in the tornado’s aftermath. (This retrospective-style story took first place for feature reporting in the 2015 North Dakota Newspaper Association awards.)

The boom’s ‘epicenter:’ Oil Patch hub Watford City adjusts to burgeoning population, financial questions: There are days, Brent Sanford said, when he struggles to wrap his head around everything happening in his hometown. Ten years ago, Sanford returned to Watford City to take over his family’s automotive dealership. He soon found himself on the city council and was elected mayor in 2010 — right as oil and gas exploration in the Bakken shale formation was beginning to put a stranglehold on northwest North Dakota communities. Today, Sanford and other Watford City leaders are facing challenges few small towns in America ever have to endure. All the while, he said, they’re trying to keep their once-quiet community from becoming just another “dirty oil town.” (While this story didn’t win any awards, it gained nationwide readership online when published in early March 2014, at the height of the Bakken oil boom.)

Dickinson businesses begin feeling slowdown’s effect: Steve Keinzle noticed a change around the first of the year. The manager of Mac’s Hardware in north Dickinson said his business catered to many oilfield service companies, both big and small — mostly hot-shot crews and roustabout companies — that would come in and buy everything from tools to flame-retardant gear for employees. But when the oil prices dropped out, so did much of that business. (Part of Inland Newspaper Association Investigative Reporting series first-place award. Part of first place for Feature Reporting Series in North Dakota Newspaper Association contest and second place in Business Reporting.)

Expendable industry: Oilfield service companies, workers deal with layoffs in wake of low oil prices: A few weeks ago, a man walked into Command Center, a temporary labor and staffing service in downtown Dickinson, and said he needed a job after being laid off from a high-paying position on an oil rig. The man said he’d only work for $35 an hour, needed a minimum of 50 hours guaranteed each week, and wanted his housing paid for along with a $150 a day per diem. After realizing the man wasn’t joking, staffing specialist Rena Olheiser responded in the kindest manner she could muster. “Well good luck with that,” she said with a smile. (Part of Inland Newspaper Association Investigative Reporting series first-place award. First place for Feature Reporting in North Dakota Newspaper Association contest.)

Bringing back Bailey: Couple reunites with lost golden retriever 2 months after she went missing in Oil PatchBailey can be a handful. A lovable, smiling and prancing handful of soft, golden fur. On Wednesday afternoon, the 13-month-old purebred golden retriever — still very much a puppy at heart — tore around a Dickinson apartment. She played with her toys, teased a cat and nuzzled up to whoever would pet her. Bailey was happy. She was home.

A place for gamers and geeks: John Nyman and John Odermann are kindred spirits. Each man considers himself to be a “geek.” While they’re geekiness isn’t exactly the same, they’ve decided it could make for a great business partnership. The Dickinson men have opened a store together where they hope other so-called geeks can come together and enjoy their hobbies and interests. “Geeks tend to stick together,” Odermann said with a smile. “We like to talk to each other about the things that we like.” (First place in NDNA awards for business news reporting.)


Hard and spot news

Receiver recommends dissolving DSU Foundation: The attorney appointed as financial receiver for the Dickinson State University Foundation says the foundation’s money issues are so bad, it will have to be dissolved.

Cutbacks in the Bakken: Baker Hughes layoff of 117 employees biggest signal yet of slowdownFalling oil prices and the resulting oil drilling slowdown in the Bakken Oil Patch has led one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies to make major cutbacks at its Dickinson office.

Remains of ‘construction worker’ found in north Dickinson:  Law enforcement agencies spent much of Friday exhuming the decomposed human remains of an unidentified “apparent construction worker,” discovered late Thursday at a worksite in north Dickinson.

Shooting claims life: Man shot ‘multiple times’ outside Dickinson apartment complexA man who was shot multiple times after a verbal altercation Sunday evening at a Dickinson apartment complex has died, the Dickinson Police Department said. Police Chief Dustin Dassinger identified the man killed as 37-year-old David Porter in a statement Monday afternoon.

Barking dog ‘savior’ for family during home fireA barking dog named Pebbles helped save the lives of a Dickinson woman and her daughter as a fire was destroying their home early Sunday morning. Amber Beld and her 10-year-old daughter, Simone, escaped the house unharmed but lost most of their possessions because of a fire that the Dickinson Fire Department believes was the result of smoldering ashes from a backyard fire pit.

Serenity in the Bakken: TRNP North Unit balancing beauty against oil boom’s impact: Ron Sams remembers a time when very little of note happened here. The U.S. law enforcement park ranger worked in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park from 1999 to 2001 before being transferred through the Department of the Interior. He returned to the North Unit in 2008, just as the Bakken oil boom and all that came with it was beginning to dig into the northwest part of North Dakota.



Hettinger 4, Regent 2: Players, coaches and officials recall the infamous low-scoring basketball game: An oral history of a 1992 high school basketball game between two small-town southwest North Dakota teams who played to one of the lowest-score totals in U.S. history.

For New England, reaching state tournament is ‘dream come true’The party didn’t stop after the post-game celebration. In New England, the revelry for winning the Region 7 boys basketball championship game last Thursday night in Dickinson lingered until the team and fans got home. Then it spilled over onto the city’s Main Street, led by fire trucks blasting sirens, a stream of cars honking horns, and the hoots and hollers of fans in this town of about 650 people relishing something that hasn’t occurred in nearly a generation. New England, with only 69 kids in high school, will be both the smallest school and community participating in this year’s Class B state tournament, which begins today at the Bismarck Event Center.

“Back on the mat”: Shane Bennett doesn’t believe he’s where he needs to be on the wrestling mat He’s not competing at full strength and he’s nowhere near the conditioning level he was at when he took second place at the NAIA national tournament as a redshirt freshman. Still, the 21-year-old Dickinson State University fourth-year sophomore takes comfort knowing there was a time — not that long ago — when those close to him didn’t know if he would live to see the next day.

Accepting fame”There was a time when Derrick Atkins didn’t know if he was ready to compete in the international spotlight. He didn’t know if the rewards that come with racing at the international level were worth being away from his girlfriend and daughter for months at a time. Atkins only knew he was prepared to hold his own against the fastest athletes on Earth.

Shaped by war”War can change a man. It may affect him violently and physically, or it can come at him slowly, setting him on a path that will alter the way he lives out the rest of his days. In Justin Schlecht’s case, it was a little of both.


Ready for life with little Monke: I’d never in my life cried tears of joy until Thursday afternoon. It happened the moment I met my son, Grant Bennett Monke.

Stop trashing our town and pick up your $#!+: No one has ever considered me a hippie environmentalist. But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who treat the land like it’s one big trash can.

A generation stuck in transition: In life, we strike a balance between Generation X realism and Millennials optimism. So what is our place?

Still building a dream: You see them every day. In supermarkets, at your job or school, as you sit down to eat, or when you drive past a construction site. Almost everywhere you look in southwest North Dakota, people are achieving the so-called “American Dream.” (This column was written as the introduction to The Dickinson Press’ annual Progress edition.)

Tales of a typical North Dakota harvest: I spent eight of the last 12 days in August on what amounted to be a working vacation as I helped my dad and brother harvest their durum, spring wheat and canola crop.

An enlightening 12-hour drive around the Bakken: Five years ago, the drive from Dickinson to Williston was considered boring by some and peaceful by others. Western North Dakota’s quiet beauty and emptiness, accentuated by Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s North Unit, surrounded dying towns such as Grassy Butte, Arnegard and Alexander. Today, the 132-mile trek is a scene of semi trucks lumbering up and down hills, wild pickup drivers with out-of-state plates, vast crew camps, random infrastructure construction, dirt (Oh God, the dirt!) and, most importantly, oil rigs and wells.

Noodle the schoodle, our lovable yet socially awkward dog: Columnist John Grogan was onto something when he started writing columns about his crazy Labrador retriever named Marley. Like most people who have seen the movie “Marley and Me,” I laughed and even got choked up by watching the antics of the crazy dog that inspired the former newspaper columnist to compile a book of stories Hollywood ultimately turned into a film. After watching it a few years ago, I wondered if I would ever have a dog so lovably ridiculous it would compel me write about him or her. Then, last September, Noodle the schnoodle came along.


North Dakota Newspaper Association First-place awards
First places

Feature reporting: “Expendable industry: Oilfield service companies, workers deal with layoffs in wake of low oil prices
Feature Reporting Series: “What’s Next?” (with Katherine Lymn, Abby Kessler and Nadya Faulx):  “Dickinson businesses begin feeling slowdown’s effect” and “Expendable industry
Editorial: “Slowdown allows time to weigh environmental impacts
Section/Feature Front Design: Progress Cover
Front Page Design (with April Baumgarten and Kalsey Stults)

Feature Reporting: “A long night remembered”
Business News Reporting: “Geeks of the Badlands”
Personal Column, Serious: “It’s all worth it in the end”
Personal Column, Humorous: “Noodle vs. The Bunny”
Best Editorial Page

Best Sports Column: “Moore set a standard for DSU athletes”
Feature Photo: “Cooling down before the show”
Best Editorials
Best Editorial Page

Sports feature: “Battling bulls again
Sports reporting series: “Chance for gold” Overview  Part 1 (Derrick Atkins)  Part 2  (Trevor Barry)  Part 3 (Ramon Miller)
Sports reporting: “Momentous victory
Sports photo: “One last leap”
Best Sports Section
Best Sports Columns

Sports Feature: “Career cut short: Concussions have forced talented DSU athlete Trevor Willis to give up football
Sports Reporting Series: “DSU moves to the Frontier” (More than a dozen stories detailing every step of DSU’s move from the Dakota Athletic Conference to the Frontier Conference.)
Best Sports Section
Best Sports Columns

Sports Feature: “What Drives Derion?
Sports Columns: “Cash is king in all levels of college sports
Sports Reporting Series: “Downfall of the DAC”  (Multiple stories over the course of seven months, starting with “At a crossroad“)
Best Sports Section

Sports Feature: “Heading in hot: Stroh hopes unbelievable September carries over into NFR
Agriculture Photo: “Harvest gets under way”
Sports Photo: “Race to the finish”
Best Sports Section

Sports Feature: “Back on the mat”

Sports Feature: “Accepting fame”
Best Sports Columns

Sports Feature: “Shaped by war”

Inland Daily Press Association
First place, Investigative Reporting, “What’s next? The oil slowdown in western North Dakota”  Expendable industry and Dickinson businesses begin feeling slowdown’s effect
First place, Community Leadership Award, “Dickinson State University Foundation Investigation”
Second place, Editorial excellence
(Editor and contributing writer in all awards)

First place, Community Leadership Award, “Dickinson State University Foundation Investigation”
(Editor and contributing writer)