Betsy Huber joined the Grange when she was 5, a girl growing up on a Chester County dairy farm.

Sixty-three years later, she has been elected national president of the agriculture group.

"It's been a long journey," Huber said.

She is the first woman to serve as president of the 150-year-old organization, which advocates for farming and agriculture, and has chapters nationwide.

"I kind of dreamed about it, I guess, but I never thought it would actually happen," said Huber, who also was the first female president of the Pennsylvania Grange, serving from 2002 to 2010.

"The Grange gives people a voice," she said. "The individual can [be] joined by thousands of other members across the country to lobby for an issue or address a problem."

The nonprofit organization does legislative work and lobbying at the state and federal levels, and also offers social activities and community service. It has nearly 80,000 members across 41 states - Huber's three children and eight grandchildren among them - and says it is the oldest agricultural group of its kind.

Huber said lobbying for broadband access - a necessity for farmers - in areas without it and fighting certain Environmental Protection Agency regulations top the group's list of issues.

Huber started her term on Nov. 13. She "will work with the National Grange staff to advance Grange policies in Washington, D.C., [and] oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization," the Grange said in a statement.

She also will plan the organization's 150th annual convention, set to take place next year.

Huber lives in Upper Oxford, where she has been a township supervisor for 24 years. Though she has worked in Harrisburg and now commutes to Washington, she never left Chester County.

"Throughout my whole life, I've seen what used to be rural Chester County swallowed up by migration," Huber said. "Preserving . . . our great agricultural land in this area of Pennsylvania has always been very important to me."

The long-standing group has faced dwindling membership in recent years, but that is "turning around," Huber said.

"There's still a place for the Grange," she said.

jmcdaniel@philly.com 610-313-8205 @McDanielJustine