Town of Scott, WI -- Crisp air and a lot of snow. Mike Tilleman is happiest when he's riding Brown County's snowmobile trails.
"Just something I always loved," said Tilleman.
He got hooked on snowmobiling at age 16, and he's made his mark on the sport ever since.
"The impact that he's left on our snowmobiling community is just immeasurable," said Cara Kamke, DNR Conservation Warden for Brown County.
Tilleman has served as a volunteer safety instructor in Brown County for the past 25 years. He's trained nearly 1,300 students how to ride and do it responsibly.
"Number one rule is always expect the unexpected because you are the other person. They always say it only happens to the other person. Well from where I'm sitting, you are the other person," he said.
Tilleman teaches his students the rules, regulations and respect.
"Landowners are just donating their land for nothing. We're not paying them anything. They're just letting us use their land, and it's very important to respect all that and be responsible for the trail system you're on."
In recognition of Tilleman's 25 years of service, Kamke presented him with a special watch as a token of the DNR's appreciation.
"It surprised me. I wasn't expecting it, and I appreciated that they did that.," Tilleman said with a smile.
"The fact that he's probably saved one or numerous lives is a given. He's just talked to so many people and instructed so many students," said Kamke. "We're truly lucky to have him as part of our volunteer program."
He's inspired his daughter, Melissa, and 14-year-old granddaughter, Kaylee, to follow in his footsteps.
Melissa says, "Knowing that he's reached all these people actually makes us feel safer because if they just get a couple things out of it, then I don't have a problem going on the trails at any time of day or night."
Melissa and Kaylee are second and third generation safety instructors who are learning from the man who's touched so many on the trails.
"I hope I'm making a difference," said Tilleman.
Tilleman's impact reaches far beyond his 25 years as a snowmobile safety instructor. He also served as president of the Midnite Trail Riders snowmobile club for 20 years, has been a member of the Brown County Snow Patrol for 12 years, is the current Brown County Snowmobile Alliance president and Director for the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) for Brown County.