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about the WJBL


a note from our founder


Food Network contacted me about filming a tv show in a small town in Texas. It was the Texas High School State Championship. I wasn't interested, didn't want to participate, but the production company called in a favor so I went. Soon after arriving in the small town (with a population of 3,000 but the football stadium holds 15,000--it is Texas after all), I realized that there was nowhere I'd rather be.

The kids I met were so passionate about cooking bbq. They were seeking any knowledge that I might give them, soaking it up like sponges. They were so proud of their pits, their cooking methods, and their philosophies of the craft. These children thought they were learning to cook bbq but what I saw was young men and women learning so much more. They were learning work ethic, morals, standards, team-building, and leadership skills.

After judging some of the best bbq that I have ever had presented to me, I started the journey back home with a new inspiration. I wanted to create an organization where young adults all over the world could participate in events like the one that I had just witnessed myself. I came home and the World Junior BBQ League was born.

We are a nonprofit whose mission is to nurture young minds by providing events that teach the important skills of leadership, teamwork, and work ethic. If this endeavor and dream of mine can reach out and give just a handful of kids the dream that I've dreamed or help teach them the core values needed in life, it will all be worth it. Our future looks much brighter with these children leading the world in the years to come.



Melissa Cookston






our mission statement


The World Junior BBQ League believes the value of a diverse, youth-oriented program is beyond reproach. Benefits of a barbecue competition involving young people include leadership development, demonstration of grace under pressure, outcome-based strategic planning, nurturing of organizational skills, time management, reinforcement of the value of hard work, emotional focus within a competitive environment, and commitment to team building. All of this is accomplished in a fun and fulfilling barbecue experience.

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