Polk earned his Graduate Artist Certificate in Music Performance from the University of North Texas (UNT) in 2008, Master of Music from the University of Minnesota in 2004, and Bachelor of Music from James Madison University in 2002. His teachers include Jan Kagarice, Vern Kagarice, Tony Baker, Tom Ashworth, John Tranter, Andy Lankford, and Jeannie Little. While at UNT, he was a teaching fellow and performed with the world-renowned One O'Clock Lab Band for three years, touring across the United States and performing at various jazz festivals throughout Europe. He can be heard on four compact discs with the One O'Clock Lab Band. He also performed and recorded with the North Texas Wind Symphony and was a founding member of the Lone Star Wind Orchestra. Polk was the bass trombonist in the UNT Teaching Fellow Trombone Quartet in 2007 when they won the trombone quartet competitions at both the International Trombone Festival and the Eastern Trombone Workshop. In 2010, he was named winner of the Marjorie Strickland Young Emerging Artist Competition in the Young Adult Division with his performance of Eric Ewazen's Concerto for Bass Trombone. Polk is also an alumnus of the 2001 Disney Collegiate All-Star Band.
Prior to joining the Air Force, Polk served as an adjunct instructor of music at both Western Kentucky University and Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College. He also freelanced in Nashville, Tenn., and has performed with the Nashville Symphony, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, and the Duffy Jackson Big Band.