A Refuge Friend never knows where he can deliver a message.

Todd Paddock of the Friends of the Refuge Headwaters for the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, WI, was flying home after having joined several other refuge Friends to testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies about the proposed FY 2013 budget. He noticed the familiar face of a congressman from Wisconsin.

So Paddock grabbed a business card and jotted some quick facts about the refuge—acreage, 300 bird species, 100 fish species, 3.7 million visitors per year—along with four examples of underfunding, like no fisheries biologist and no forester. “I summed it by asking him to please support adequate funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System,” Paddock reports.

He stepped into the aisle behind the congressman to have a moment of conversation and give him the business card. “I told him that I had written a message concerning an important national wildlife refuge.” Turns out the congressman knew of the refuge because he sometimes hunted and fished there.

The familiar face? Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chair of the House Budget Committee. “He’s probably one of the least likely members to support additional federal funding,” says Paddock, “but you never know.”