A native of Wells and Kiester, Minn., Vondracek went west for college in 2003, attending the University of South Dakota on a scholarship named for Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today. After picking up a B.A. in Journalism in Vermillion and writing for the student newspaper, The Volante, Vondracek stayed for his M.A. in English literature. He taught college English in Rochester and Winona, Minn., between 2009 and 2015, and eventually received his MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Hamline University in St. Paul. Since 2017, he has covered legal affairs, education, religion, and politics with various publications from South Dakota to Washington D.C. and back. In 2020, his poetry book — Rattlesnake Summer, a collection of 66 poems for 66 South Dakota counties — was published by Ipso Gallery and Badger Clark Publishingin Sioux Falls. Vondracek moonlights on piano for his Twin Cities-based band, The Golden Bubbles, as well as a traveling radio show in South Dakota, the Rock Garden Tour. He once played The Corn Palace in Mitchell.