School paper, Lions Roar
Junior Kolby Lowe stands before a 100-foot hunk of metal, exhausted. He’s been working in the West Texas summer heat with his father in the oil field since 7 am, and 10:30 pm is approaching fast. He returns home with a smile on his face, covered in oil and dirt. He flops onto his bed, only to rise the next morning and do it all again.
Albany has never been a town with skyscrapers and men in business suits. Albany’s history has been dominated by farming and ranching since the early 1880’s, it’s biggest economic boom coming in 1910 when settlers stuck oil.
Even in today’s modern society, the thrilling search for oil and the riveting life of a cowboy has not disappeared. Kolby is one of the many students keeping West Texas’s traditions alive.
“My dad wants me to go to college and get a good education,” Kolby said. “I don’t think he wants me to end up like him, having to work constantly. But I like it. I like working outside and I like this lifestyle.”
Kolby has always been fascinated by the way things work. When he was three years old, his Grandfather, Hugh Lowe, or “Pops” as Kolby calls him, made him a mini-spudder (oil rig). His mother, Leigh Lowe, always found herself tripping over the deep holes in their yard, only to turn around and see Kolby with a huge grin stretched across his mud-covered face.
“Kolby definitely grew up around the oil field, and he’s learned to respect it,” Leigh said.
When Kolby was only 8 years old, he spent his entire summer break working with his older brother, senior Keelan Lowe, his father and grandfather in the oil field.
“Kolby wanted to work more than anything,” Leigh said. “I’d go out to where they were working and bring lemonade and cookies. Kolby always looked so happy to be working outside.”
Now as a junior, Kolby goes to work right after school while his brother goes to football practice. Kolby is currently working on preparing a rig and scouting out its new location with one of his family's three businesses, Tabor Creek Oil.
“Football won’t get you anywhere after high school, work will,” Kolby said.
Kolby spends his weekends with his friends riding bulls and horses, and preparing for stock shows. He has also been working with juniors JT Bowman, Dusty Goble, and K.C. Jones, to get a roping area cleaned up so they can train for rodeos.
“Kolby and his friends have been up at Billy Ayer’s area plowing it and riding bulls every weekend,” Ag teacher Chris Beard said. “Those boys have really turned into responsible, polite, hard working young men who love to have fun.”
Beard says that Kolby’s hard work in the oil field has carried on to his participation in Ag, stock show, and FFA. Last year, Kolby competed against about 360 students and snagged first place at the Weatherford College Livestock Judging. Lowe has been on many Wild Life judging teams, and shows hogs in stock show every year.
“Kolby is smart and can grasp all aspects of what he is doing,” Beard said. “I know I can call on him outside of class and ask him to do something and he’ll get it done right without a lot of help from me.”
Kolby also has been participating in rodeos since he was five years old. He has won numerous awards in bull riding and roping and was even a bull riding finalist in 2001 at the Pro-Youth Rodeo Association.
Although Beard, like Kolby’s parents, believe that College is not for everyone, they still desire for Kolby to get an education outside of high school.
“If you go to college all your doin’ is spendin’ money,” Kolby said. “But if you don’t go, your just making money. Makes sense to me.”
Junior Dusty Goble is one of Kolby's good friends who also works in the oil field during the summer. Goble shares somewhat of the same philosophy.
“All you do in school is sit and be bored. It’s kind of pointless for me,” Goble said. “I don’t use history or English out in the oil field.”
Senior Keelan Lowe, Kolby’s older brother, has also been working with his family in the oil field since he was young, but his views on school and work are much different.
“The oil field is so unstable. One year, the business is going good. The next, your out of business because the need for oil isn't as high,” Keelan said. “There is more money to be made by going to college and having that education, more stable options to chose from.”
Keelan is working towards getting into Texas Tech in Lubbock and majoring in either business or accounting while Kolby plans to take over Tabor Creek Oil and maybe start his own business and ranch someday.
“Right now there is a shortage of welders and these young guys could get a welding certificate and make $60,000 or more a year,” Beard said. “I’m proud of their hard work and dedication in Ag and I am Confident they will do well in whatever they do.”
As for Kolby, he will keep living “cowboy” style, spending his weekends hunting, roping, and riding horses. He will continue working with his family until he either takes over Tabor Creek Oil, or begins his own business.
“Why read a book when you can watch a movie? Why stay inside during school and be bored when I can be workin’?” Kolby said. “Being inside is just wastin’ one of God’s wonderful days.”