Governor Doug Burgum appointed Melissa Baker as Director of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department in April 2017.
Prior to her appointment, Baker worked in state parks in Montana and state forests in Wisconsin. She was also a professor of recreation management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Baker has a Ph.D. in forestry with a focus on recreation management and natural resources alternative dispute resolution from the University of Montana. She has also conducted research on recreation use and place meanings at Glacier National Park in Montana and Giant City State Park in Illinois.
Baker oversees North Dakota State Parks and several grant programs, including Land and Water Conservation Fund grants, off-highway vehicle trail grants, community grants and recreation trails grants.
In her free time, Baker enjoys using state parks and recreation areas for camping, hiking, fishing, bicycling and attending interpretive programs.