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A Taste of Tattnall: Ariel Cruz
Ariel Cruz with her project, “Make the Change...Find Your Next Job Online.”
Ariel Cruz with her project, “Make the Change...Find Your Next Job Online.”
Ariel posing with her mini booth, “Inspiring CNA.”
Ariel posing with her mini booth, “Inspiring CNA.”

Ariel Cruz, a senior at Tattnall High School, is one of the many dynamic Tattnall 4-H members, but also one of its rising leaders.

This week is National 4-H Week, October 2-8, 2022, with the theme “Opportunity 4All.”

Ariel became a member of 4-H in the fifth grade, and she placed first in her first DPA (District Project Achievement) competition in the health field when she was a seventh grader.

“I really was enticed into 4-H through their summer camp, and this then led to my introduction to DPA,” she said.

“I moved into Workforce and Prep my ninth-grade year.  My tenth-grade year, I cooked in the Dairy Food project area, and last year I returned to Workforce and Prep.  I will be competing in Workforce and Prep in February of 2023,” said Ariel. She has achieved first and second place wins as a junior 4-H member in the seventh and eighth grades.

“I credit Mrs. Rachel Stewart and Mrs. Rebekah Greene as my mentors and constant encouragers and motivators. I am so grateful for their guidance. They both got me out of my comfort zone, and this has helped me tremendously. They truly really care about the youths in this community,” said an appreciative Ariel.

However, Ariel is much more than just a 4-H member. Along with Jamie Ellis, she is co-president of the Tattnall County 4-H Seniors (ninth-twelfth grades). She is also a 4-H Student Worker/4-H Intern.

Ariel’s duties as a 4-H Intern include making copies, preparing flyers, assisting in the Extension Office as needed, teaching 4-H related classes, and running errands for the staff.  She ensures that the supplies are sufficient for every class that is taught or offered, cleans the area after the classes, and helps the 4-H Agent and 4-H Educator as needed.

Her mother, Kristie Rodriguez, who is employed at Tattnall County High School, and a sister, Karley, are her two most ardent cheerleaders when it comes to Ariel’s 4-H endeavors.

Ariel also has a brother, Ryan Cruz, who is two years older and is employed at Canoochee EMC. Karley, who is in the seventh grade at North Tattnall Middle School, is very involved in 4-H, too, and she participates in most all that is offered through the 4-H program.

“I simply love 4-H. It allows me to be myself. There is something for everyone in 4-H, no matter what your interests are. I have learned so much in 4-H, to be brave and bold in all that I do,” said Ariel.

“Four-H has provided me with several travel opportunities, such as to the three 4-H centers around Georgia, a Braves game, and a UGA football game. The conference that I just attended in September in Crossville, Tennessee, was a wonderful Teen Leadership Conference, all made possible through 4-H membership,” said Ariel.

Ariel lives with her mother and sister in Reidsville, where she is a member of Reidsville Baptist Church.

If you are unsure if you want to become a 4-H member, Ariel Cruz can certainly encourage you to join this worthwhile organization that can develop you in so many ways, along with adding new friendships and expanding your horizons.

Ariel Cruz’s Recipes


1/2 cup water

1/2 cup whole milk

8 Tbsp. butter (unsalted)

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon 

Canola oil

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, 8 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

 Remove from heat and immediately stir in 1 cup flour all at once with a wooden spoon. Once incorporated, put back on the heat and stir constantly another 2 minutes to release extra moisture and partially cook the flour. The dough should come together in a smooth ball, and a thin film will form on the bottom of the pan.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed 2 minutes to cool the mixture slightly. Add 4 eggs one at a time and allow each egg to fully incorporate between additions. Beat until dough is smooth and forms a thick ribbon when pulled up.

Heat 2”-deep vegetable oil to 370 degrees F. Keep the oil between 350-370 degrees F. while frying.

Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip (Wilton 1M). Pipe 6” lengths into hot oil and cut with scissors. Fry 1-1/2 minutes per side or until golden brown, then flip with tongs and fry another 1-1/2 minutes. Fry in batches, about 5 to 6 churros at a time. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and then roll in cinnamon sugar.


Smoked pork butt (shredded)

corn tortillas (Mission brand)

cotija cheese

white onion (diced)

jalapeño (diced)

cilantro (chopped)

avocado (sliced)


Smoking the Pork

Use left over smoked pulled pork or smoke a pork butt. Smoke an 8-lb. pork butt/shoulder at 250 degrees F. for 6 hours, then increase temperature to 275 for 3 hours or until an internal temperature of 195 to 202 degrees F.

Shred pork with two forks or a meat claw. Place aside.  Chop up white onion, jalapeño, and cilantro and place aside. Slice avocado into 4 long slices and quarter the small limes into 8 wedges.  Crumble cotija cheese and place aside.  Toast white corn tortilla in heated pan till it begins to blister. Remove and put on plate. Repeat for all tortillas.

Assemble Tacos

Start with the corn tortilla as the base and place 1/4 cup of warm pulled pork on top of tortilla.  Sprinkle some cotija cheese on top of the pork, then top with chopped white onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and 1 avocado slice.  Squeeze 1 wedge of lime juice as a finishing touch. Enjoy!


I recommend using Mission brand of white corn tortillas. The corn flavor balances nicely with the flavors of the rest of the ingredients.  Warming corn tortilla in a heated pan until it begins to blister provides a nice crisp texture

I prefer cotija cheese above all other kinds.