Delaware native Kristeen Balog has an acute aptitude for art and history and has shared her knowledge with others around the world. Today, she stays busy with her sons, ages 10 and 11, and still manages to offer her talents through her volunteerism across Eastern North Carolina.

 

Kristeen’s interest in history began in her childhood. When she was young, her mother would take her to volunteer at Brandywine Battlefield, a Revolutionary War battleground in Pennsylvania, on weekends. She and her mother also joined in whenever archaeologists came to excavate there.

 

At age 13, Kristeen and her family moved to Wilmington. She went on to earn a degree in anthropology from UNC-Wilmington. She took several archaeology and museum studies courses and did lab work on items recovered from the gardens of Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington. She was even involved in archaeological excavations in Barbados and Germany.

 

After marrying her husband, a federal employee who works with the military, Kristeen moved to several countries. She was in Japan for four years, Germany for three years and Cuba for two years before settling back in North Carolina.

 

Kristeen had a clear desire to engage in her community, regardless of where they were living. While in Germany, she started an art club at her sons’ elementary school. In Cuba, she started a masters swim club—a competitive swim team for adults—and served as its coach. She held practice three times per week with an open water swim every Saturday.

 

Upon returning to North Carolina, Kristeen and her husband built a house in Stella, a little town that is about a 50-minute drive from New Bern. She is an active volunteer at White Oak Elementary, where her sons attend. She recently gave a presentation on the Lost Colony and sometimes takes the kids on walks along the White Oak River to explore and find old pottery and other relics.

 

Despite the distance, Kristeen works and volunteers in other cities on a regular basis. She volunteers at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort and recently began teaching acrylic painting at Michaels in Jacksonville. She is also active with the Art Walk, where she and her husband can be found outside the Greater Good Gallery in downtown New Bern.

 

“We just enjoy the community so much, and it’s a lot of fun,” Kristeen said. “We don’t live here in New Bern. However, I sure do wish I did because it’s such a wonderful city, and I’m very honored to be a part of it.”

 

In February 2017, Kristeen began volunteering at the Conservation Lab at Tryon Palace. She is there for four hours each week during the school year and helps with tasks such as cleaning metal objects and vacuuming World War I-era uniforms using special techniques so as not to damage them. She enjoys working with the other volunteers and noted that their knack of storytelling can make even the most monotonous tasks interesting.

 

“Being a part of this community and this group—it’s just fun,” said Kristeen. “You get the whole team working together.”

 

Kristeen also helps in Tryon Palace’s collections department. She documents conservation efforts by serving as photographer and taking photos of artifacts before and after treatment. She volunteers in the palace gardens for three hours each week during the summer by pulling weeds, raking leaves and cleaning marble statues. She even brings her sons along to help sometimes.

 

“They feel like they’re a part of something big and beautiful, and that’s what Tryon Palace is,” she said.

 

Kristeen is grateful to be part of the surrounding communities and hopes her story will inspire others to volunteer as well.

 

“I hope it will encourage other people to give to their community,” she said. “That’s why I do it. I want to pay it forward.”

 

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