POCATELLO – Fredi Giesler’s interest in social work started when she was a teenager babysitting for various families and was solidified when she took her first Introduction to Social Work course at Pacific Lutheran University.
“Babysitting made me very focused on the needs of children and how they intersect with the needs of parents,” she said. “In my Intro to Social Work class, we had the opportunity to visit a school in a low-income housing subdivision and it helped me decide what I really wanted to do.”
Giesler will become Idaho State University’s first Master of Social Work (MSW) program director this fall and will help develop a program from scratch.
Giesler has a history of creating new programs. Prior to her position at ISU, Giesler worked as chair of the Department of Social Work and as MSW program coordinator and MSW liaison at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She helped develop a new MSW program in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, helped the UW Oshkosh social work undergraduate program receive accreditation and was an MSW program coordinator. In 2012, the collaborative MSW program at UW Green Bay split. Giesler had the opportunity to create the UW Oshkosh program from the ground up and enjoyed the process.
“Creating new programs gets me excited,” she said. “The opportunity to create a new MSW program is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to that.”
One of the main things Giesler is excited about at ISU is helping develop a program that is reflective of the people who will be leading it.
“Faculty members at ISU have done a fabulous job getting the groundwork done so we can offer courses this fall,” Giesler said. “I am excited about bringing together the ideas of all of our faculty members and building a program that is reflective of their ideas.”
Giesler also worked in child welfare residential treatment for eight years, worked in Child Protective Services for two years and worked for the Washington Children’s Trust Fund developing programs for parent education and family support.
“Prevention is my passion,” she said. “I also enjoy working with children who come from troubled families and providing them with a safe space.”
Two of Giesler’s main goals upon arriving in Pocatello are meeting the social work needs of the Southeast Idaho community and receiving accreditation for the program.
“I want to meet the needs of our students and also our service providers,” she said. “If there are things that we need to prepare the students for, we will be addressing that. We want our students to graduate ready to meet the needs of people in Idaho.”
Giesler grew up in Washington State and went to college in Tacoma, Washington, and has been to Idaho many times. She is looking forward to living in the mountains instead of the flatlands.